Friday, 4 May 2018

Purple Hi-Top Boots Card

I made this card for my niece for her 14th birthday, hard to believe that she is growing so fast, it doesn't seem but a moment since I held her in my arms the day she was born, time goes by so very quickly!

My niece isn't a pink girlie, girl so pink, lipstick and tu-tu frills for a card for her would go down like a lead balloon, she's what would have been called a Tom Boy in my day, but I'm not sure that's politically correct these days. She loves Batman, anime, bacon, chocolate, and the colour purple!

I like to think she gets the love of anime from me, and I may have helped influence her love of purple along with her Mum. I watch her and see a few other things that are me in her, she plays Skyrim like her auntie does, we like some of the same music and has my sense of humour, watch out world lol!

I was a bit of a Tom Boy when I was younger and I'm not a huge fan of pinks and princess colours. Still today, I'm more comfortable in jeans, t-shirt and a pair of hi-tops than skirts, dresses and high-heels. When I was my nieces age, I wore hi-tops all the time, but back then they were called baseball boots and I had several pairs in nice bright colours. So when I saw the My Favorite Things 'All Star High Tops Die-namics' die I couldn't resist it, partly nostalgia and partly forming an idea for my nieces card. Although I think it would work equally well for a card for a teenage boy if you change the colours and background to something more grungy or gamey, although that would work for girls as well in my world.

The die is fabulous, but putting those eyelets in can be a little fiddly, in the end I hit on the idea of using my pokey tool as a positioner. First dab some glue on the back of your hand, skeewer the eyelet on your pokey tool or something that is thin enough to go through the eyelet hole. Add a dab of glue then holding the boot piece with one hand, position the eyelet around the hole using the pokey tool and press down.

I was amazed at how quickly I got through the job once I'd hit on that method of adding the eyelets, the rest of the pieces layered together very quickly. I did try to use some thread to make laces but I couldn't get it through the holes in the boot without it fraying and looking messy.

I made this one a an easel card using black card and used the same purple glitter card I cut the boots from from some of the mats and layers. I cut several silver stars and slightly larger stars out of black card to mat the silver stars on to and used them as simple embellishments for the card.

The happy birthday sentiment is cut using a Sue Wilson 'Scripted Happy Birthday' die from the same 'Nebula Purple' Tonic Studios Craft Perfect Glitter Card that I used for the mats and layers and boots. I love Tonic glitter card, it die cuts like a dream, it doesn't shed its glitter like some types of card and the range of colours are so rich and lush! I'm delighted to say that my neice loved her card, it always makes me smile when I make something that makes someone else happy, it makes it all worthwhile.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

A Wreath of Paws

I made this card recently to send to a lady who is also a little bit of a crazy cat lady as part of a Happy Post mail swap that is run on the Creative Minds - Kind Hearts group and I'm thrilled to say she loved it. The wreath was stamped using the 5" Wreath Builder Template that Si made for me, if you are interested in owning a set of your own then you can find more details on my facebook page 😁

I used Ranger Dye Ink Pads in Raspberry Sorbet, Grape Soda and Lavender Field colours to stamp the paws using stamps from Hobbycraft and My Favorite Things. The template makes it so easy to stamp any stamp you wish and quickly build it in to a wreath shape which can then form a background or be an actual focal point.

The image was stamped and die cut using the My Favorite Things 'Best Friends' set, I love the set more cards to come using the set very soon. The sentiment also comes from the set and uts very true 😻 I coloured the image using Prismacolor Pencils and blended them with gamsol, my shading is still a work in progress but I can see the improvement everytime I colour, lots more practice needed but I'll get there 😊

I used dies from the Wonky Stitches range available from Craft Stash to edge the paw panel and cut the sentiment panel, the only other addition was a few Clear Iridescent Jewels from Lucy's Cards to add a bit of interest. I'd seen a few of the American crafters use this gems like Jennifer McGuire, so I was thrilled to discover that the company is in the UK and postage is only £1! Lucy does lots of sequins, glitter, confetti, pearls and more in some gorgeous colours.

I added some shimmer with a Spectrum Noir Clear Sparkle pen to the large paws and the little girls dress. To finish I mounted the white panel on to a piece of purple metallic card and then attached that to a homemade card blank I'd created using a piece of Lavender Centura Pearl cardstock, really pleased with the way this one turned out and tonight I'm off to my local cats protection to show the ladies at their Craft and ChAT group how to stamp and colour images like these 😺😻🙀

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Bee Happy, Create Impossible Cards!


There is a new craze doing the rounds in the card making world currently for something called an Impossible Card. The irony is its really very, very simple and uses a single piece of card to make the card base.

I've seen designs that use USA A2 Size (4¼ x 5½), USA A6 (4½ x 6¼), 5" x 7" and a 6" square design and a few variations in between this website has templates for all the above, the ones I've made so far are both 5 x 7 because it was really easy to to mark it all out.

When you see an impossible card your first reaction is WOW how is that possible, the mind makes you think that the card must have been made using two pieces of card, but also makes you think its a single piece and has an optical illusion effect. The catrd is based on something called a Hyper Card, that was originally posted by a company called Bicycle who make playing cards.

To make my card I followed a YouTube tutorial by Sam from Mixed Up Craft, I actually found her tutorial and blog thanks to a lady who is a member of one of the same craft groups as me, I really couldn't believe how easy it was to make one of these cards and I'll be making more in the future. It's another card that will fold flat, so if you don't put much on in the at of embellishments, you can send your card as a large letter and save postage.

I made the "Home Sweet Home" card first and I got myself in to a bit of a pickle, I couldn't get the flap the card fold created to stand upright. No matter what I did it fell forward or backward 😕 There are 3 possibilities for the problem...

1) The cardstock weight was not strong enough, I used cardstock  that was only 160gsm and was therefore probably not strong enough to take the weight of the topper?

2) The topper I attached was too heavy for the flap. That said I tried adding a piece to the back of the flap but it didn't help stablise it.

3) I didn't fold the flap correctly. In  the demo video Sam folds in one direction half way, turns the piece over and folds the other side of the flap from the outside to the centre in the other direction. When I made the first card I turned the flap over and folded it all the same way.

When I made the 'Bee Happy' card I followed the steps and folded and creased in the same way that Sam did and my flap stood up perfectly and held the topper without falling over. I like the colours and image of the 'Home Sweet Home' card and didn't want to bin it so I made a couple of little hinges to glue to the back, this created the stability that the topper needed to stand upright. Whilst it wrecks the "How did they do that illusion?", it does mean that I can still use the card and didn't have to throw it away.


The bee topper and papers were from a "Making Cards for Boys" CD that came free with Making Cards Magazine in March 2017, I'd printed these off when I made the Colourful Monster cards back in February but the right idea to use them hadn't hit me.

I thought that the would be good for an impossible card. I decided to add some Tonic Nuvo Crystal Glaze to the honey jar ro make it look more glass jar like and I love the effect that the glaze created.

The topper and papers for the "Home Sweet Home" card are from a Crafters Companion "Makey Bakey Mice" CD and were printed off a while back, again waiting for the right project to come along. I decided against adding a sentiment to this card because the topper already had a sentiment on it.

I made the paper flowers from a leftover piece of the backing paper and a scrap from making the base card using the Card Making Magic Die Set 'Layered Florals' and finished the centres off with some 'English Mustard' Nuvo Drops. In hindsight, it would probably been better to use some distress ink to define the edges of the flowers after shaping them, but I was a little too eager to finish the card and by the time I thought about inking, I'd already stuff the flowers and leaves down. Below is the video I used to make the cards.


In other news two lovely card making things have happened this week, the first is I've finally found a group of ladies that live locally that meet a few times a month to craft, chat and eat cake! I'll be going along to meet them and craft along with them on the 11th May, the lady that organises the events is a Stampin Up demonstrater, but she is foremost a crafter who it seems loves getting together with others to share the joy of crafting, I'm looking forward to it and getting together with other crafters to share inspiration.

My other piece of crafty news is this week I became a moderator of a lovely group on Facebook Creative Minds - Kind Hearts which I'm thrilled to be a part of, and to be helping to moderate and also help out the groups founders who both have busy schedules. I'm now part of the moderation team who along with the Admins have been talking behind the scenes and sharing ideas to help make this fabulous group even more fabulous if that's possible, more I cannot say as nothing has been finalised but exciting times are ahead. That's all for now, I'm off to work on a few more impossible cards, these cards are so impossibly I hope you have a go if you haven't already.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Bird Silhouette Tag

This mixed media lark can certainly become a bit addictive, I've been playing with lots of ideas since I last blogged, but they've not been going to plan, this weekend I found out why, I was using the wrong mediums for the job.

I've also discovered that the gesso from The Works is not the best medium for the job and if you want to use distress inks, neither is Modge Podge, because it acts like a resist and won't take water based inks! You can still use archival inks, but I don't have as many colours of archival as I do distress. Another downside of Modge Podge is it leaves your project feeling 'sticky' and as if it isn't dry and yes this time Jennifer I waited, a whole 24 hours!!! lol! 

So I invested in some Pebeo mediums thanks to Jen's input, she's becoming my mixed media guru if I'm stuck she offers advice and gives me her invaluable insight and product recommendations and ones to avoid. So based on what Jen recommended I picked up some Pebeo clear, white and black gesso and some gel medium. I still want to get a few other mediums, like Phosphorescent Gel, DYNA Bindex and Crackle Paste/Glaze but that will come with time as I learn more about playing with the mediums.

What mixed media is doing is encouraging me to use more of my Tim Holtz stuff of which I have an awful lot of but I don't often use because the style isn't suitable for sending cards to people I know which sucks! But mixed media gives me the chance to make home decor, journals, tags and so much more using my precious Tim Holtz stuff that its making me giddy!

This tag project didn't turn out exactly as I planned as you can see from this photo, I originally coloured the bird with Peacock Feathers and a touch of Fossilised Amber but on the parts that had been treated with Modge Podge the ink wouldn't stay put.

I decided that the bird didn't pop (I originally typed poop lol) enough because it was coloured too much like the background. So I added black sparkle pen over the distress ink and used some 'Buttercup' Archival Ink to colour the tail edge, under belly and the face and throat. I think it worked out a lot better although I think it may have been better in hindsight to use brown rather than black. Another change was the decoration at the base, originally I was going to attempt to create a nest with hessian strands and place some polystyrene egg shapes I picked up cheaply at Hobbycraft but I couldn't get the next effect right. I decided instead to use flowers made using my Tim Holtz Small Tattered Florals die set and coulour them with Mustard Seed distress ink to tie in with the yellow parts on the bird.

I added copper embossing powder to the feet, beak and tail tip using a Quickie Glue pen and some 'Copper' Darice Whisper Embossing Powder and then used an Indigoblu flourish scroll that came free in a set with a magazine to add some detail. The backing papers came from a 'Classic Elegance' pad by Melissa Frances that I won along with some pearls when I had a letter printed in one of the card making magazines a few years ago but I hadn't got round to using. I looked over to the side of my desk and I saw a feather I'd cut using the feather die from the Tim Holtz 'Feathers & Ravens' die set and it just cried out to become a wing on the bird, I tried it and it worked perfectly, so I gave it a bit of sparkle and a gold spine and added it to the bird.

I wanted some sparkle so I decided to use some Tonic Studios Nuvo Glimmer Paste in 'Peridot Green' through a Bo Bunny stencil, it did the trick, adding sparkly translucent texture to the tag. Once the flowers were attached I added some Nuvo Glitter Drops in 'Honey Gold' which finished them off nicely. The sentiment comes from one of my Tim Holtz sets "Life Quotes CMS227", which I have only used one of the stamps on one previous occasion. I seem to collect Tim's dies and stamps and then don't use them, because taking them out of their packets and using them somehow sullies them, OMG I'm turning in to my brother with his Star Wars collection lol! 😂😂😂

In an seemingly unrelated, but related occurence, Simon had a long weekend off work which gave us a rare chance to get out on a weekday to visit our local National trust place 'Calke Abbey' and whilst there I noticed something I must have seen many times before but hadn't really registered, an example of 19th century mixed media!

When I got back I did some research and discovered that the Three-leaf Draught Screen at Calke has a wooden frame which had been covered in canvas. On top of the canvas a vast assortment of images have been stuck down including cuttings from books and magazines, coloured prints and caricatures from publications of the 19th century. The screen is double sided, both sides can been seen in better detail on this National Trust Draught Screen page. On one side there is a large print of a little girl in the centre, each panel showing a different image and above the images of the girls a romantic country scene, other smaller prints arranged around them included Father Christmas, Kittens and a lot of flowers and butterflies.

One side includes a print of Sir John Everett Millais painting "Bubbles" originally known as "A Child’s World" which featured the painters Grandson William and was painted in 1885. Millais sold the painting and copyright in 1886 to Sir William Ingram, the owner of the London Illustrated News, he reproduced it as a colour plate and included it in the Christmas issue of the weekly magazine. The then managing director of Pears, Thomas J. Barrett, who by all accounts was a pioneer of modern advertising methods in the 19th century, saw the colour plate and realised the potential of the picture to his company. He contacted Ingram and purchased the original painting and exclusive copyright for the princely sum of £2,200, he then contacted Millais who at first was reluctant but eventually gave his permission to add a bar of Pears soap to the painting so that Pears could use it for advertising purposes.

The collage technique used on things like the Draught Screen was and is known as decoupage, a crafty pursuit that survives to this day, and whilst this version at Calke Abbey isn't the best example, it does make me wonder about the girl or woman that created it, where she got her images and why she chose those ones in particular? Apparently the art of découpage dates back to the 12th century when Chinese people first started to use paper cut outs to decorate windows. Although it didn't get the name we know it as today until the 20th century the word is derived from the French word découpeur which means to cut out.

According to this History of Découpage page, Victorian Nannies taught the girls in their charge the art of découpage, and some of the old examples of the technique used 30-40 layers of varnish built up over the collaged images, each coat sanded down to a beautiful smooth sheen to protect the images. Some even had gold gilding added and images were sometimes hand coloured by the découpage creator. Who knew that seeing an old screen would lead to discovering so much, not only does it have links to crafting, it also links my love of Pre-Raphaelite art and botany, I'll have to be a lot more observant in the future, who knows what else I'll discover?

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Printer Review For A Papercrafter: Canon Pixma TS8151 All-in-One Wireless Inkjet Printer


There seems to be a desert of information when it comes to discovering a printer that is useful for a cardmaker come papercrafter, as I doscovered when I started to look, so I thought it may be a good idea to do a post on my latest purchase and my discoveries.

When I first started crafting in 2014 I had an Epson Stylus DX4850 Printer that enabled me to print on heavyweight card stock, sadly it died a death back at the beginning of 2015, so I purchased an HP Envy 4500 e‑All‑in‑One Printer, the attraction for me was their Instant Ink scheme, you pay an amount per month (I chose the £3.49 plan which allows you to print 100 pages a month), the printer reports on your ink levels and ink is sent out to you before you need it.

The day after my HP purchase I tried to print on some 250gsm card stock and was very soon disappointed, the card went through the printer and only half the design was printed, on some occasions it printed cock eyed, on others it just sucked the card in and spat it out again with NOTHING on it! At first I thought it was something that I was doing wrong, so I investigated every avenue and that's when I discovered that front loading printers like the HP Envy won't print on anything above 200gsm if you're lucky, 160gsm is the weight that is the maximum for decent print coverage.

So for over 3 years I've soldiered on, and if I needed to print out toppers I did it on lightweight paper or card and backed them on to mats to stiffen them up a bit, it was good for printing out backing papers but the colours were never true to the image I was printing. It was what I had, so its what I had to use, then a couple of weeks ago I wanted to print off some photos for some gift projects I was working on and no matter what I did, I could not get the HP printer to print on the photo paper, even the HP branded stuff.

I was stressing out really badly, when hubby appeared and suggested that maybe it was time for a new printer? I didn't want to just go out and buy any old printer, so I drew up a list of requirements, I knew I wanted the new printer to be able to print on 300gsm cardstock or greater if possible and it had to be able to print on photo paper giving good results. It had to be able to feed paper in from the front and rear and also be easy to set up and maintain, I'm tech savvy but not a tech wizard.

The printer also had to work with Windows 10, have easy to use software and a good level of support from the company if something went wrong. I asked around on a couple of card making groups and the Canon Pixma series seemed to be highly recommended. So I went shopping and came home with a Canon Pixma TS8151. The specs for my printer are taken from the Canon website and I've added them here in case they discontinue this model in future.

MAXIMUM PAPER INPUT Rear Tray: A4, A5, B5, LTR, LGL, 20 x 25cm, 13 x 18cm, 10 x 15cm, 13 x 13cm, Envelopes (DL, COM10) Front cassette: A4, A5, B5, LTR.
PAPER TYPES
Plain Paper Canon High Resolution Paper (HR-101N) Canon Pro Platinum (PT-101) Canon Plus Glossy II (PP-201) Canon Pro Luster (LU-101) Canon Plus Semi-gloss (SG-201) Canon "Everyday Use" (GP-501) Canon Matte (MP-101) Envelopes Other Fine Art Papers Printable Discs.
PAPER WEIGHT
Rear Tray: Plain paper 64 - 105 g/m², Canon photo paper up to 300 g/m² Front Cassette: Plain Paper: 64-105 g/m2.
SHEET FEEDER Auto feed from paper cassette.

The Canon Pixma TS8151 ticked all the boxes including having the ability to load paper/card from the front and rear which meant it would take card in the rear tray and canon say it works with paper up to 300gsm. It helped that at the time I bought it not only was it on offer in PC World, but Canon were offering a cashback deal as well, which made the deal all the sweeter. This baby also prints directly on to CD's, you can print from an app on your phone, it has a super easy to use touch screen making controlling it is easy. Granted it takes a little time to remember what paper/card goes in the front or the rear (well it does if your a 50 something menopausal women lol!) but its easy to use and gives brilliant results.

When I got back home with the printer, I decided to run a comparison of the printers, all the examples in the photos are printed on Navigator Ultra Smooth Paper 120gsm which gives ultra-bright colours and can be used with either inkjet or laser printers. Its good for printing photos, posters etc and has been my go to paper for a while now, so much so I buy it in bulk. One of the first tests I performed was to print out a backing paper as that's what I print most.

As you can see from the above image the Canon printer prints the image truer to what the image actually is, their is more colour variation, the HP Envy is flat almost 2 colours. Next I opted to to print out some digital images in both printers and colour them in, before I continue I'll explain that on the HP Envy I'd tried to print off digi images and it gave up because I thought I was just rubbish!


On each of the samples I used the same pens a Zig Real Color Brush pen, a Promarker and a Spectrum Noir Sparkle Pen, the 3 pens I use most often. As you can see above every one of them suffered from bleeding or smudging on the images printed off with the HP Envy, and was the reason I didn't play with digital images.


The same pens (save for the fact I used a different colour of Sparkle pen on account of the fact that one of my cats Rosie decided to dive on the desk and knock the first pen off and it landed behind the desk where I can't reach without pulling everything out lol! Anyway as you can see the results with the images printed on the Canon printer have no bleeding, there was a little smudging if you went to heavy with the sparkle pen, but not so that it made the image unusuable.

To sum up, I know there are lots of printers on the market, but for the price the Canon Pixma TS8151 does what a papercrafter needs, granted there is a limit on the thickness of paper/card you can print on, but the print quality and colour is brilliant. I now have the ability to print on cardstock again and I can print and colour digital images and print off photos for using in projects. Be aware that the ink is a lot more expensive that the deal I have with HP. What I now do is use the HP for generic backgrounds where the colours don't matter that much and if I want to print on cardstock/paper that the HP can't handle I use the Canon or if I want to print a photo. Not everyone has that option, but it helps keep the costs down.

If you have any questions about the Canon printer leave them in the comments and if I can answer then I will respond. I don't work for Canon so I can't answer technical questions or techy questions.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Entering A World of Mixed Emotion Media

Hey lovely blog people :) today I'm posting something a little different, I dabbled with mixed media in a way a couple of years ago when I attempted to start an art journal. I bought a lot of supplies, had a go, but despite getting enthusiastic it went nowhere.

I tried to do two more journal pages after the one in the article linked above and they were unsuccessful, so the supplies gathered dust. In a way it was like when I first tried card making all those years ago, I tried, it didn't work, so I gave up!

Then recently the lovely Jennifer Kray showed me a couple of her mixed media projects and I was in awe. Jen took a cardboard Bisto pot and turned it in to a stunning floral work of art.

We had a conversation, it went something like Me: your project is stunning, but I can't do that because I'm not good with mixed media. Jen: I disagree, just go for it! She encouraged me to have a go, pointing out in a nutshell that everything is art and it doesn't matter what others think, its the fun you get out of it whilst you create, okay I'm paraphrasing but that's what it boils down to. So I found a tin and a pot of gesso and then I chickened out again and the tin loitered in my room glareing at me every now and again daring me to touch it.

Earlier this week Jen posted another mixed media project, this time a card that she'd created for the launch of the new Nuvo Diamond ink cubes and it took me back to France 2 years ago.  I was right back in the Musée des Impressionnismes at Giverny, and fondly remembering standing in Monet's studio and weeping like a baby with joy, yes one creation triggered all those memories and feelings!

Jen's work was stunning but I was still convinced that I couldn't do mixed media. Jen explained what she did to create the card and it seemed so easy, not much different to creating some of the backgrounds I create for cards. Yeah those things that I'm getting rather good at now, because I found my papercrafting feet and kept practicing how to walk! I wound up, with Jen's encouragement thinking that maybe I could do mixed media, so I dug out the tin and the gesso and I started playing.

I painted the tin with gesso, then covered it with angel hair paper before painting it with gold starlight paint. At that point the ideas flew out the window, I couldn't and still can't decide on whether I want a steampunk, bee or botanical theme for my up-cycled tin, so that project is on pause. It would have been easy to pack it all away and forget about it, but I decided to check one of the boxes under the bed to see what paints and things I had. In that box I found a little decopatch cat I'd bought to decorate and a pack of six 5" x 7" canvas boards I'd bought from The Works for about £2 when I was going to have a go at mixed media a while back.

So instead of giving up and whilst I wait for the muse to hit me for the tin, I decided to give the cat and one of the canvas boards a coat of gesso. More on the cat in the future, but for now, I'll concentrate on the board, because I now have a finished project under my belt, okay it isn't as grand as some of the creations that you can marvel at on Youtube and on an array of mixed media blogs out there, but it is created by me and I finished it whooo hooo!

I must admit that where the project went is not where I expected it to go and there has been a lot of covering up mistakes throughout the process. Step one, I added gesso, all good, then I added some paper strips and put mod podge over the top, again all good. I added some aqua flow pens and the lovely olde world lavender bottle image completely disappeared! So I painted over the papers with pearlised acrylic paint and added patches of metallic gelatos in pinks and purples, I then randomly stamped a Stampendous script stamp over the paint in Jet Black Archival Ink, although on the finished project its barely noticable, you can see it more on the photo below.

I wanted to give the canvas some texture but the only texture paste I had in was Ranger Transparent Texture Paste which dries clear, I added the texture paste you can see it in the picture above, it goes on white but dries clear. Once it was all dry I used my finger to add some Pebeo Gilding Wax in 'Empire Gold' and added some more gelato in darker purple on the edges of the canvas.

I checked my bits box and realised that I'm not really that well kitted out for mixed media, I haven't got lots of cogs, wheels, bits of jewellery or any of the other things in the stunning designs I've seen created. So I took a step back and BAM my Sizzix Tim Holtz Bigz dies hit my eye and I decided that the wish sentiment would be perfect. So I found some scrap packaging card I'd saved and die cut the sentiment out 3 times, glued the layers on top of each other and painted the whole thing with Black Sparkle Pen, then added a thicker coat of the gilding wax on top. The flowers are also Tim Holtz Bigz dies, but I made these almost 2 years ago and they'd been sat in a box with some others waiting for the right project to come along.

The leaves were made around the same time as the tattered flowers and sat in the same box, so when I opened it up I guess I did find some treasure, but the paper kind. The butterfly I got from The Range a while back in an assorted pack and it felt right for this project, so it got glued on along with the flowers and leaves.  After seeing so many stunning mixed media creations posted by highly talented and brilliant people like Jennifer I feel pretty nervous putting this project out there, but its my first and I actually rather like it!

It looks NOTHING at all like it did in my head when I began the project, but I do like the colours and the textures. The most important thing is I did it, I started a project and finished it, and I learnt things about myself. I also learnt that mixed media is VERY forgiving, and I discovered that I have lots of paints and other items in my stash already and the projects I've done over the past few days have encouraged me to use those items and other stamps and dies for the first time.

Now if I can just discover the difference between modelling paste and texture paste and figure out if I need soft gel medium and which glue is best for mixed media projects I think I can learn to embrace this new creative venture. So if any of you have tips on books or sites to find out more please leave me a comment. I've acquired some larger canvases that Si got to explore oil painting but never did so he's given them to me to give me more chances to create a masterpiece lol! More from me soon, I'm off out to enjoy a rare day of sunshine now, take care and thanks for stopping by :)

Monday, 9 April 2018

Wreath Builder Templates Now For Sale

I'm super stoked to announce that as of today I now have a Facebook Shop set up where you can purchase a set of the Wreath Maker Templates from if you so desire. Over the next few days I'll add more sample photos of cards created using the templates and a picture step by step guide. I'm aiming to sell cards I make and also pre-loved and unwanted craft supplies from the shop as well.

Unfortunately I gave the shop the wrong name and Facebook won't allow me to change it until I have 200 likes on the page. It's currently called Cook's Craft Supplies, but when I get 200 likes I'll be changing it to Cook's Cards & Craft Supplies. Via the facebook shop you can pay me via Paypal, I'm thrilled that we've already had 3 sales and hopefully we'll get lots more in the future. Let me just say that I'm not out to make a huge profit, I'm selling these bacsue when Simon made them for me people asked if they could have a set, but mainly because like many people, when I've tried to stamp a wreath by hand in the past, even drawing a circle guide. I've wound up with a mess on my hands that went in the bin rather than used to make a card. The templates make creating wreaths so, so simple and have made creating this kind of card for me a pleasure. 😍

The sets cost £10 that includes postage and packing. They are 3D printed in purple PLA and are 1.5mm thick. They are recommended for use in larger sized stamping platforms (see below).

That said the 3" template will fit in a Mini MISTI Stamping Tool or any stamping tool with an area of 6" x 4.75".

The 3", 4" and 5" templates fit in the Original MISTI or any stamping tool with an area of 6.5" x 8.5". You need a larger stamping platform for the 6" template and I recommend the Tim Holtz Stamping Platform by Tonic Studios, mainly because that's what I have and its what I use. 😁

We don't currently offer the templates for sale individually but it may be possible to do so if there is a demand for single sizes.

Using the templates is easy, first cut your card stock to the desired width, for the template in this photo that's 5" x 5" and put it in position as shown. N.B. you don't have to start in the diagonal, you can first place your stamp on the flat.

Next place the first stamp of your design when you want the image to be and close down the lid of your stamping platform to adhere it to the lid.

Next add ink to your stamp and close the lid, in the event that the image isn't crystal clear you can stamp again. It's important to note that your stamping template and card must NOT shift if they do then your stamped image with become misaligned. Before stamping always check that the position hasn't shifted before you stamp.

After the first image rotate your card stock 1 notch, if you want to create just 4 images then rotate 2 notches, in the above example I first stamp on the flat 4 times turning the card stock until I had the 4 lighter orange flowers in place. Then I shifted to the diagonal position as seen above and stamped and rotated to add the darker orange flowers. You then continue to build up the design using other smaller or larger stamps until you are happy with your wreath.

You don't have to just stamp floral images, any small stamps can be used, in this kitty example I used several different sized paw print stamps to create my wreath, I've also used sentiment stamps to create a wreath of words, again any stamp that fits in the area you're stamping can be used.

You can also stamp directly on to card blanks to make super quick single layer cards. I recommend adding a couple of post it notes on the back of the card blank to cover the area to make sure you don't get any stray ink marks on it.

The beauty of using a template and stamping platform is it makes it so easy to create batches of wreath cards like the ones below, all you have to do is repeat the process on as many cards as you require. Stamp all your first layers, then add the next stamp and continue until you have all the panels you wish to create. If you change ink colours make sure you clean off the stamp with a baby wipe before switching to another colour.

If you have any questions or want to know more, message me through Facebook or leave me a comment on my blog and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.I'm off yo stamp more wreath cards now 😁

Sunday, 8 April 2018

More Wreath Stamping

Hello everyone I've been a bit amiss from the blog world for a couple of weeks, life issues sadly, and I need to catch up with all my friends posts and look at their creations. Speaking of blog friends, last weekend I finally got to meet one of mine, I was amused by the fact that she didn't recognise me, but did recognise Simon 😂 and I'll never let her forget it lol! The lady in question was doing a demo day at The Range in Leicester for Trimcraft and as that is far from me I convinced 'the famous one' to take me to meet Shabneez from Happy Hijaabi's Papercraft Creations.

It was wonderful to meet her and the bonus was I got to sit and craft with her whilst we chatted, I made a little gift bag under instruction from Shabneez and she not only allowed me to put the double sided tape on myself, I got to play with scissors lol! I picked up a couple of dies that I'll be using soon from the Trimcraft/Dovecraft ranges, they were bargains at just a couple of quid each. I have to say that it was a lovely feeling to be crafting with someone else instead of just working by myself. I'm hopeful to be able to meet up with lost more of my crafting friends in the future and maybe even get to a workshop or two with them.


It was a grizzly day today, so i stayed in and played nice in the craft room 😀I placed an order with Craftwork Cards for a couple of floral stamp sets and used stamps from them both to make these cards (Painted Florals and Build a Blossom Stamp Sets) the other day and they arrived this morning, so it seemed like an ideal time to play with the templates that Si made me a few weeks back.

I made 3 cards 5" x 5" and also 3 cards that were 4" x 4" using the 5" and 4" templates that Si made for me, he made a change to the initial design which you can see in my previous post DIY Wreath Stamping Template were I used the first template he made that was 3" x 3".

Watching me stamp, he realised that it wasn't neccessary to have a full square as a template because of the rotation, all I needed was 2 sides to allow for a flat position of the card and the diagonal position as you rotate round creating the wreath.

You start with your card aligned on the flat as in figure 1. stamp with your choice of ink and turn the card so that its on the flat again, doing this for the number of times you want to stamp the image.

You then swap to the diagonal and stamp your next image 4 times as in figure 2. in the image. You continue to do this with all the images and colours you chose to use until you are happy with the wreath.

Whilst it is possible to stamp a wreath with just a stamping block, using these templates requires the use of a stamping platform. The medium sized MISTI is good for the 3", 4" and 5" templates, but for the 6" you need a wider stamping platform such as the Tim Holtz Stamping Platform by Tonic Studios, which is what I use for creating my wreaths. It's crucial that you keep your right angle flat against your stamping platform and keep your card flat against the sides of the template, if the cardstock shifts, then your stamped image will also shift. That isn't the end of the world, but it can look messy of you are stamping on top of another image.

Depending on the size of your stamp you can stamp the same image up to 8 times, that said Si is working on a new set of designs that will allow for more rotations, inbetween developing hi K9 robot so he can take him to PiWars in Cambridge later this month, so I have to be patient.

I'm thrilled with the way these templates work and easily I can create colourful wreath cards, that can be used for so many different occassion, I'm already thinking about Autumn and Winter wreaths and I've been asking to make more of the kitten paw cards in my previous template post.

For the 6 cards I made today I used a selection of Altenew Cube Inks, the sentiments are also  Altenew and come from a set called 'Build-A-Flower: Sakura Blossom'. I stamped them with Jet Black Altenew Crisp Ink which is a lovely dark black and stamps crisp and clean. I added some bling to the cards in the shape of Nuvo Glitter Drops which added a nice touch of bling.

I wasn't happy with the resulting layout of the finished 5" wreathes, I'd stamped too close to the centre and there wasn't enough room for the sentiment. So I decided to cut some circles to echo the shape of the wreath and stamp the sentiment on those and add them on som 3D foam squares.

It worked well, and I think maybe better than my original idea, although I do like the sentiment stamped direct to card like on the 4" cards in the first photo. I often make mistakes and find creative ways to disguise them so I can still use the panels, it took me a while to stamp these, so it would have been a shame if I couldn't make use of them.

In other news I managed to complete my 30 day no spend challenge last month, those 30 days went by a lot quicker than I expected them to, but it was torture but in a good way. I spent time getting reacquainted with the contents of my craft room and rediscovering what stash I had and towards the end of the 30 days I started to organise and declutter the room that I craft in. I'm really pleased with the results now its finished, I've boxed dies and stamps by company and put all my adhesives in one box, gems and embellishments in another for example and the whole room is so much tidier and organised as a result, making it easier to craft.

I also got a happy surprise come pay day, Si had got his annual bonus at work and presented me with my own little bonus to spend on crafting goodies. So I did, cheers honey! I pre-ordered the new Nuvo Alcohol Markers, bought a couple of stamp and die sets that I wanted and picked up a storage rack for my alcohol markers. The 30 day no spend challenge really did make me reaccess what I buy, now I ask do I really need it, or do I just want it because its 'shiny' and can I make use of it for more than 1 card? I think it will be good to challenge myself every couple of months, maybe even have 1 no spend week every month? We'll see, but for now I guess as I'm writing this at 1:30am, its time I went to bed and got some sleep, I have another day in the craft room planned tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and thank you for stopping by :)

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Distress Oxide Water Painting

Hi there, I hope that your week is going smoothly andlife is treating you well? All is good here at Warts n All towers, its been a busy few days, our Young Roboteers course finished last saturday, our YR's gather one last time at Robot Day to race their robots and we're off being STEM ambassadors this week at a Home Education Science Fair as part of British Science Week and we'll also be taking K9 along to robot day.

As well as that I've been prepping for our first "Meet & Make" session that we're giving for a group of young adults later this month. The idea is they get to meet us and K9, see him in action and then they make an assortment of robot themed cards, I'm loving that my hobby and Simon's are starting to cross over.

I'm now on day 14 of Miserly March, boy is it ever flying by! At the start of the challenge I seriously doubted whether I'd be able to do it, but I haven't spent a penny on crafting since the 26th Feb, so a total of 16 days! I'm almost halfway through the month of March and thanks to my supportive friends and Simon I'm now confident that I can make it.

I've still be looking at craft supplies, some of my favourite companies have been launching some fabulous things, and I've still got my nose in pinterest, youtube and my favourite papercrafters blogs, but when I see an idea that catches my eye, instead of running off to buy the exact same products to make the project that takes my fancy, I'm looking in my supplies at what I have that can create the effect without spending money.



Last week I watched Jennifer McGuire create some gorgeous cards using a very simple but very effective technique involving Distress Oxide inks and water, a match made in heaven. I knew instantly that I wanted to recreate the effect myself but with the prep, birthday card making and all the robot stuff going on, I didn't have time, so it went in to my future ideas pile in my head.

Then this weeks Wednesday Challenge over on Victoria's Crafty Friends asked us to create either a 4" x 4" card or an ATC, my head saw the Lil'Inker 'Wreath of Roses' stamp and I knew from using it in the past that it was smaller than 4" x 4", and using it would mean I could play with the Distress Oxide technique that Jennifer had shown on her blog. Everything I used to create these cards came from my stash, and yes I know there are some mistakes, like failing to remove all the embossing powder residue for one. That said I'm happy with the final results the cards are bold, bright and beautiful.

I won't go in to huge detail about how to do the technique, I'll post the video of Jennifer's below so you can see her in action. I decided when I'd finished applying the water inside the flowers and blotting the access away to leave the paler background, that I wanted to add some secondary colour.

So I used some distress inks (Picked Raspberry, Mowed Lawn, Mustard Seed and Salty Ocean) on an acrylic block mixed with water to create a paint and I dropped that in to the areas I wanted to colour. Once that was dry I gave the flowers and leaves a coat of clear Spectrum Noir Shimmer Pen before finally adding my sentiment and some 'Morning Dew' Tonic Nuvo Crystal Drops.

I'd pre made my drops, I add them to the backing left over from 3D foam pads and make a variety of sizes and colours, that way they are ready to add to a project and I don't have to wait for the drops to dry. It also helps prevent the drops soaking up the colour from the Distress Oxides which happens if you apply wet drops to the design, something Jennifer covers in her video. I used gold and silver vellum for the backs of the sentiments that I picked up on sale from Hunkydory in February, I bought it exactly for the purpose of being sentiment shadows, it has a lovely shimmer, but sadly the photo doesn't do it justice.

As part of my experiments I tried using bleach on the Distress Oxides and they just don't react to bleach in the way that the original Distress Inks do, all that bleach does is lift the colour in exactly the same way that water does, whereas bleach on Distress Inks sees colour changes and differences. If you fancy giving this a go for yourself, then watch the video below. The technique is certainly something I'll be making lots of use of in the future, I've already had a rummage in my stamps and found some designs that will be perfect, I'l also going to try using the Altenew outline images from my sets, watch this space 😁

Friday, 9 March 2018

Digital Crafting for Free - Resources

The Miserly March challenge (Day 9 and still going strong) has got me looking at ways of crafting without spending money. Making use of existing digi crafting CD Roms that I've bought or got free with magazines is a no-brainer option for no cost crafting. I have a monthly subscription with Hewlett Packard called Instant Ink which allows me to print off 100 pages a month for £3.49. When my printer is running low on ink, HP ship me out fresh cartridges and I send them the old ones back in prepaid envelopes they send with the fresh cartridges. The link I added above is a referral link so if you have a compatible HP printer and you sign up I get a free month and so will you!

As I look at the folders on my PC of the cards I've been making since I started crafting in 2014 I realised that almost all of the cards I've made consist of some printed element or other, be it a topper or a background paper. I've even made notelet sets and matching envelopes 😀 Not all of the things I print and use are from CD's though, I make use of lots of elements from sites that offer free downloads and I occasionally buy from a few talented designers on Etsy, but I love the finding and using free toppers and papers, especially now 😁

So I thought it would be a good idea to blog about some of the ones I regularly use and add a list of them to my Links list look for the section "Free Download Digis & Papers" whichI'll update as I find new sources. It should be noted that not all the links contain entirely free downloads, some of them also sell stuff to download, but they also give you some lovely free stuff to download.

Making Cards Magazine - Every month MCM have a free download, you get to download it if you sign up to their monthly newsletter, and as a bonus when the email newsletter arrives you get a bonus download. I've used MCM images a lot, they are always such fab quality, they print out without any issues and they are always vibrant and colourful. Other card mags have downloads but they tend to be half size papers and I prefer A4 sheets, check out Cardmaking & Papercraft (you have to sign up to get their downloads) and also Papercraft Magazines lots of papers and templates to download.

Harper Finch - If you like using checks and plaids as backgrounds for your papercrafting creations then sign up to Harper's newsletter, she gives regular freebies via email. I've mentioned Harper before in other blog posts because I use her background papers a lot, she also gives away scrapbooking elements as well. She has so many stunning designs which you can purchase via her Etsy shop.

Pixabay Free Images - Great site full of photos, illustrations, vector graphics, background images and lots more, you can download low resolution files for free, higher resolution files you have to have an account for, all the images are free to use for personal use, the majority of them have a Creative Commons Licence.

The Coffee Shop Blog - Nothing to do with coffee (well unless you count the lovely free coffee papers download), I came across Rita's fab blog whilst I was looking for some free clover leaf background papers, I found some on her blog and so much more. As well as lots of free digital download stuff, Rita also has tutorials and explains how you can edit some of the downloads yourself to alter colours, size etc.

Docrafts - The Docrafts site has some good templates and papers that are free to download and use, and if you sign up to the club you get access to downloads before the general public and also 15% off in the Docrafts shop. I met a lot of lovely ladies that now visit my blog via the DoCrafts site back in the day when they had a thriving forum and magazine, both sadly gone now but the freebies are still there.

My Craft Studio - Lots of freebies to download and use, toppers, backing papers etc, you have to create an account to download the files, but doing that is free. The files download in .zip format so you need to have a program on your PC to unzip them. If you run Windows then there is a built in unzipping tool more info here.

Crafters Companion Download of the Month - Note the link won't work properly for you until you've signed up to a Club Inspire account, once you have you get discounts on your CC purchases and access to the free downloads, its free to join and download the files even if you don't make a purchase.

Club Hunkydory - Another set up similar to CC, sign up for a free account via the Hunkydory website and get a discount on their products and you can also download some lovely papers for your digital crafting, also templates, how tos and videos.

These are most of the ones I use regularly, I'll update the list as I find more, I'll also add them all to a links section soon. If you have any good freebie resources for free to download craft papers leave me a comment and I'll add the links to the list.