Saturday, 30 April 2016

Outer Space Card

It's been a funny old week this week, we've had wind, rain, snow, hail and bright warm sunshine, my clothing wardrobe is dizzy! The weatherman said it was going to be fine yesterday, so I did a wash, pegged it out in the sunshine, and I swear the sky waited until I'd put on the last peg, gone back in to the kitchen and put the kettle on, to start persisting down! Apparently rain showers are on the cards for the rest of the bank holiday weekend, which will probably mean that I won't be able to plant up my roses and do some other big garden jobs, but I will be able to craft instead, so not all bad ;)

Speaking of crafting... I've been hosting the Enchanted/Fantasy challenge over on the Docrafts forum the past few weeks. I chose the theme  "Outer Space" and asked members to create a project of some description that went with that theme, be it aliens, rocket ships, spacemen, moons and planets, or a starry night sky. I added that the project should "include some kind of star(s) be them die cuts, buttons, stencils etc. And use some silver and blue in the colour scheme, any other colours can be added." The challenge ends today, so I'll have to put names in a hat to pick a winner.

My entry actually didn't wind up looking like I wanted it to, but it didn't do so bad methinks, I couldn't get the balance right and I was disappointed with the spaceman die when it arrived if I'm honest, but I was determined to make it work. A couple of weekends ago I was playing with some brusho's and the new Cosmic Shimmer Pixie Powder and made what I thought ended up looking like a nebula background, it came to me then that it would make a nice space themed card.

I made a smilar piece that I stencilled with a butterfly in orange, red and copper tones and the bit I die cut the Saturn shape from was an off cut from that experiment. I used First Editions 'Space Dies' set and cut the 'Earth' and 'Spaceman' dies out in two colours of sugar paper - or as its now called construction paper - and paper pieced them. When I was younger at school, many, many moons ago we called it sugar paper and I assumed it was because it was made from sugar leaves or some part of the sugar plant. Anyway my friend gave me a stack of sugar paper in lots of different colours and I took it out to use on this project. The thought crossed my mind, why is it called sugar paper, so I googled. Turns out that the origin of the term 'sugar paper' lies in the fact that it was once used to make bags to put sugar in for sale! Well I never!!!

I die cut the spaceman from some dark grey textured card I had in my stash and I added a little glossy accents to the helmet visor to give it a more dimensional look. The sentiment is computer generated and I die cut it with a Wplus9 banner die. The silver and blue speckled papers were in my stash of papers and cards and I can't remember were I got them from, the blue glittery speckled card could have come from The Range, I'm not too sure! I finally added some Papermania star adhesive gems in light blue to finish off the design, the earth, spaceman and banner and attached to the card using 3D foam pads.

That's all from me for now, I hope you have a brilliant bank holiday weekend whatever the weather, I want to sort a few things out in the craft room and I have a few projects in mind, plus a couple of cards to create for up coming challenges. Thanks for stopping by and for any comments you leave, I appreciate it :) Debs x

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Design Teams & Challenges

It's been a busy few days, yesterday I finally got round to cleaning out the greenhouse removing all the dead plants that hadn't made it through the winter. Mainly because my menopause brain completely forgot to keep them watered! It wasn't all dead though, I was amazed at just what had survived and still had green shoots or buds, fingers crossed now they've been cleared of debris, watered and shown some TLC they will make a full recovery!

I've also been busy on the card making front, I was lucky to be chosen for the Readers Design Team for issue 154 of 'Quick Cards Made Easy' magazine, using the designer papers they offer in each issue, I think the issue my card was done for is July issue which will be on sale in June. I've done the QC design team before, last year, I think it was in June?! My owl card wasn't selected for the magazine, but did get posted on the QC Facebook page. I've made my card with the latest papers, and posted it off, I've kept it simple and will post photos after publication, but for now I'm not allowed to share the card or the papers. I doubt my card will be picked to go in the magazine, there are always so many wonderful cards created, but I was thrilled to be selected to take part, if I am lucky though you'll hear me whoop with joy from here.

I signed up to take part in a variety of challenges over on the Docrafts forum and one of them was the floral challenge, the lady setting the challenge asked for "1 or 2 colours + card colour  any type of 3D flower in any form as long as its the main focus". As I'd just finished making the tattered flowers with my Tim Holtz die (see the Making Tattered Florals post) I thought that the pink rose would be perfect for the challenge. I'm not sure if my card is good for the challenge though as technically there are 5 colours plus the back ground - pale pink paper for flower, edged with Spun Sugar Distress Ink, green leaves and the adhesive gem is a deeper shade of pinky purple and finally the black stamped sentiment, whoops.

I like the design whether or not it fits, hopefully it will though, it is very simple design but looks like more time went in to making it. Okay painting the leaves with Starlights and making the paper rose took time but the die cut and assembly took no time at all.

I got the Presscut Stepper die a couple of weeks ago and have made several cards with it which I'll add to the blog soon, I used the die for this card, cutting it out of an A4 sheet of white card from a pad of white and cream linen effect 220gsm card from The Range. The white floral background topper was cut using the largest die in the Floral Frames set from Sweet Dixie, I also used the tag die from this set to add extra interest and to stamp the sentiment on.

I discovered the Sweet Dixie dies around October last year when I picked up some of their Xmas dies and was very impressed with them, they cut really well. The leaves on this card were die cut from the Crafters Companion Leafy Flourish set and were painted with Menthol Starlights paint.

The sentiment stamp I stamped using Onyx Black Versafine ink using a stamp from the Wild Rose Circle Greetings set. The flower centre is a gem from the Dovecraft Back to Basics Berry Blush gems, I attached it to the card with a couple of 3D foam pads, the leaves were glued to the card base tucked under the flower with some Tonic Studios 'Craft Tacky Glue'.

This afternoon I'm finishing work on my Outer Space challenge card for the Enchanted/Fantasy challenge I'm hosting, then I have an Afternoon Tea Party card and a card with Butterflies and Bees on to create, I'm trying to tie the challenge cards in with cards I have to make for upcoming birthdays for friends and family and so far its going well. Although I keep getting distracted because I want to play with other things lol!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Making Tattered Flowers

I love flowers and anything botanical, I think that's because of the herbaholic in me, recently I've found myself being drawn to creating paper flowers of my own, I've seen projects by some very talented ladies on the Docrafts forum over the past 12 months that have paper and vellum flowers as part of the designs, and they look stunning.

After playing with the Starlights paint to make flowers for some cards I made recently to send to friends, I realised that I wanted to create something a little more florally dimensional. I wasn't sure how to do it, and started to look on the internet and discovered some pretty stamp and die sets that can be transformed into 3D flowers, but it required me to spend around another £40 to get what I want and as I'm saving up for my holiday in July and then the November Hobbycrafts show, that's not something I want to do at this time.

Then I remembered that I had the Tim Holtz Tattered Florals Bigz die by Sizzix on the shelf and I hadn't got round to using it yet, I think I was scared that I'd mess it up. But a very wise lady over the on the DC forum said we learn from our mistakes, and that we expect to get professional results straight away and get put off when we don't achieve them. She was talking about stamping and colouring, but I think that I hit that hurdle every time I feel like having a go at something new. We only get better if we practice and what's the worse that can happen, you lose some time and effort and it goes in the bin! I keep having a go at colouring and I get better each time and the more I do it, the better I'll get.

So I took the die off the shelf and cut 3 large flowers, 2 medium and 1 small out of pale pink paper, I lightly inked the edges with a finger sponge using 'Spun Sugar' Distress Ink. Then used a balling tool I picked up cheaply at the NEC in March, I shaped and moulded the paper in to more life like petals on the back of my 'Stampers Secret Weapon' board.

I did hit a snag in that the paper creased as I applied the pressure and at that point I almost gave up, but I decided to press on - pun intended - and used the balling tool on all the paper pieces. I glued them together and added an adhesive gem to the centre, and used a clear Spectrum Sparkle pen on the edges of the petals to give it a little shine, the finished flower wasn't perfect but for a first attempt I was pleased, thank you Emma :)

I showed the first paper flower to Simon and pointed out the problems and he said it didn't look that bad, and reminded me that nature isn't perfect. So I decided to have another go, Si offered the suggestion that maybe a thicker paper would help prevent creasing? So I painted some A4 sheets of white card with Starlights paint in 3 different shades: - Dried Rose, Dark Orchid and Cyclamen and waited for them to dry.

Once dry I cut out all the pieces I needed to make each set of flowers, From one A4 sheet of paper/card you can make 3 flowers. A 2 layer daisy, a large 5 layer rose and a small 3 layer rose. On the three cyclamen coloured large rose pieces I decided to stamp them with some Hero Arts 'Intense Black' permanent ink using the WOW De-Vine stamp I've used on a few projects recently, once layered the rose has the look of a baroque paper, and I kind of like it.

By the time I'd finished I had 3 sets of flowers and my initial tattered rose. I love the effect that the Starlights paint has given to the card making the flowers look almost metallic. I'm going to make more in different colours, but I think I may give the centres of the flowers different colours, I chose centres that matched the petal colours and in hindsight a contrast would have been better.

I'd like to use some of those fancy decorative brads, but I don't have any on my stash yet. I did find that using the balling tool got to be a little hard on my fingers after a while, so had to take a break, so heads up in you have problems with finger joints for any reason.

For the future, I think I'll measure the shapes and cut squares of paper/card to go over the area corresponding to the shape I want to die cut. Placing the card over the die meant I ended up with a few incomplete flowers that weren't needed. However if that paper/card hadn't been wasted it could have been used for other projects somewhere down the line. The downside to these kind of paper flowers is the dimension, to attach to a card and post the card would need a box of some description and I'm not currently tooled up to make boxes yet.

I think I may also try inking the edges of the petals to make them a little more defined.  All in all though, not a bad exercise and I can see a lot more paper flowers on my crafting horizon, I have more dies to cut foliage and greenery as well! That just gave me an idea... I could make lots of the flowers in matching colours and make my self a rosy floral wreath and if I create some pockets for dried rose petals in the back I could make them scented!

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Starlights Paint

Hello to all the lovely people who read my blog, all four of you lol! I hope your weekend is off to a fine start? I have no big plans, a little gardening maybe if it doesn't rain, and some crafting of course, I have lots of ideas for using all my new goodies, I really must stop buying more stuff until I've used up some of my stash and stop adding to it!

This card making lark and stash buying can get pretty addictive, I picked up a couple of bargains in the Crafters Companion Spring Clearance Sale this week the Flights of Fantasy stamps for 90p each, and a few of the Signature Collection dies for under £3 and free postage as I'm now a silver member of the CC club. Then I went to 'The Range' and found they'd started selling ribbon to match their floral Bronte Charm paper range and they had some pretty rolls of adhesive ribbon with roses on that I couldn't resist.

I hope you don't mind me posting about stash and what I do with it, I just love sharing what I discover, I have to say that I have no affiliations with any of the companies I post about, if I get a product and like it then, for me it makes sense to share that knowledge with others.

So this post is another flash back to my March NEC purchases, this time looking at Starlights Paint from Imagination Crafts. I'd seen the paints on the TV on C&C around November last year, I think it was a demo with Sue from IC painting an MDF Santa Sleigh. I didn't buy any because at the time, I wasn't interested in doing anything with MDF (still not been bitten by that bug) or in to using paint, plus my shiny/shimmer/glitter appreciation hadn't fully developed, it has now mwahh ha ha!

There are currently 28 colours in the collection, so far I've acquired 21 of them, I love them so much and I know that they will get used for lots of different projects, including making die cuts shimmer and sparkle. They'll be fab for winter cards as well as some of the Steampunk designs I'm working on, FYI I used Black Starlights on the die cuts on my Fairy Wishes card post, so you can see the effect via that post. The sparkle apparently comes from the fact that the paints have lots of finally crushed metallic flakes and the flakes are in slightly different shades to the paint colour which helps to enhance the sparkle.

So far I've used the paints wish a brush direct to card, when that was dry - and they do dry very quickly - I used the painted sheets to die cut elements out for future cards (see below). The stencil brush makes adding a thin even coat to a die cut an absolute doddle, I really couldn't get over the sparkle and shimmer you got from just one coat of the paint. Next I want to build up layers and work with the gold, topaz and green coloured Starlights to create a verdigris effect.

At the NEC Lisa Baker, aka Lisa B was doing a demonstration using Imagination Crafts stencils and starlight paints and I was captivated by the sparkle of the paints and the gorgeous range of colours.

There was a special offer on the paints, the stencils and also the stencil brushes, so I bought some of each item. As well as some fabulously bargains on stamps, more on that in another post when I share what I made with them.

Because I bought lots of the show special offers Lisa gave me a piece of artwork she'd been working on. Incidentally the stone wall background in the above card is a done using the Stone Wall stencil from Imagination Crafts, I taped the stencil down and used my ink dusters and Memento ink in 'Potters Clay', after first running the stencil through the big shot using the rubber mat I got from IC. The sentiment on the above card is from the Friendship Sentiments set, also from IC.

I used Amethyst Starlights for the flowers and Emerald for the leaves. The flowers and leaves were die cut using dies from the Crafters Companion 'In Bloom' and 'Leafy Flourish' die sets. The butterfly is a Sizzix die that came as part of the bundle with my Big Shot Plus. I also made some flowers using the Bright Fuchsia Starlights and did a lighter green set of leaves using the Menthol colour, these have been used to decorate other cards and I have some spare for future use.

One of the real bonuses of the Starlights is there flexibility when dry, I painted on to a piece of white stamping card, allowed it to dry and then ran it through the big shot and the paint on the die cuts didn't crack or show any signs of damage. I've embossed pieces of Starlights painted card as well, and again no damage to the paint, its very durable and again that's with just 1 coat.

The texture of the paint is very creamy and it covers really well, and the shimmer you get has to be seen to be believed. Plus they can be easily layered to give two tone effects and also mixed together to make other colours. I've added a YouTube video by Sue of IC showing some techniques including brayering with the paints and using the paint to achieve a gilding effect on MDF.

If you haven't had the chance to work with the paints yet and want to have a go I can highly recommend them, I'd suggest you pick up Pearl (white), Red, Rich Gold (as close to yellow as you can get) and Sax Blue to start with, with those shades you can make shades of green, orange and violet and by adding the pearl white you can get lighter versions of each, if you get Black as well you can make darker shades and achieve a fairly good colour range with just 5 colours. I'm off to play with paint and paper now, enjoy the rest of your weekend and I'll catch up with you again soon :)

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Three Days of Sun and a Little Gardening

A quick post, this is a warts and all blog after all, but I haven't posted anything but card making stuff for a while, so for a little change I thought I'd do a quick post sharing some sunshine! On Docrafts forum I'm known as Herbaholic, that's because I love herbs, but I'd kind of lost my gardening mojo when my depression bit hard in 2014 and its only just beginning to come back, so there is a heck of a lot of work to do to get the garden back in to shape. Here, there and everywhere though, there are reminders, I wish you could smell the heavenly fragrance of my Burkwoodii Viburnum that was wafting about on the warm breeze the past few days, it made a pleasant day in the garden even more enjoyable :)

Yesterday Simon wanted to go to the big local DIY store to get some plywood for the shell of the K9 robot he's building, so I tagged along and managed to come home with 2 x 125 litre bags of compost, 3 lemon thyme plants, 1 rosemary plant, a tray of 6 dwarf lavenders and 6 small dianthus plants! A selection of which were planted this afternoon in my 3 tier planter that I acquired back in March 2014 and hadn't gotten around to planting up until today! It's baby steps but I'm getting back in to the swing of things and enjoying doing it. Still have a lot to do, next jobs include pruning roses, tackling clearing out the greenhouse and tidying the borders up and applying bark chips to try and get the garden back to its former glory.

The above photo was taken in 2008 back in the day when I wrote a herbal column for Grow Your Own magazine. I can restore it, it will just take some time, and as we've made the decision to stay in this house but build on the side to extend and move us further away from noisy neighbours, I kind of feel more like I want to put time in to restoring the garden as I'm staying here. I'm getting back in to the swing of things on a grand scale, today I received 15 packs of seeds from the new Jekka's Herb seed range from Johnson's Seeds to trial and review over on my herbal blog, I've missed flexing my green fingers and growing fresh herbs. Seeds raised will turn in to plants that I can use to help revamp the back garden and some will go in the front garden. I'll post some photos as I make progress over the coming months. It'll be nice to see it in full bloom and tidy and not looking like a jungle!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Fairy Wishes

I hope your week is shaping up nicely? We have sunshine here for the second day in a row, so I've pegged out the washing, had breakfast and after this post I'm off to sow some seeds, and pot up some scented geraniums in the garden. Yesterday I did some spring cleaning and I finally got round to backing up all my PC files in readiness for upgrading to Windows 10, I've been putting it off but it has to be done.

On to card making... I posted these cards on my DoCrafts Gallery last month and got some lovely comments about them, I made them after I'd been to the Hobbycrafts show at the NEC in March where I acquired these days and lots of other stash that will be appearing on my blog over the next few months. I did come away with lots more stuff than I intended to buy, but there was so much inspiration and I found things that I hadn't been able to find before.

For this card I matted a piece of purple centura pearl on to a white 5" x 7" card, on top of that a smaller piece of black card which I'd embossed with a Toga embossing folder I picked up in France last year the design is called 'Feuillages' or foilage in English.

After embossing I rubbed the raised area with Cosmic Shimmer Vintage Lavender gilding wax. The sentiment was done purple foil using my laminator on to a laser printed sentiment - I recently did a post about hot foiling that you may be interested in reading if you haven't already seen it?

The topper is made using the Star Gazing die from the Celtic Dreams die collection that was a joint project by Lavinia Stamps and Imagination Crafts, I picked up two from the range - wish I'd got more - and they cut like a dream! I cut the die from 260gsm black card, which I then I stippled it with Black Starlight's paint, a new paint I picked up at the NEC, and have since added more colours to my range, they are brilliant, see the photo just below this, the pale dotted areas are actually the sparkle you get from the starlight paint, I was truly amazed at the effect from just one light coat. I've been using these to paints to make flowers for some cards, will post the photos soon, the results are sooooo shiny!

Back to the 'Fairy Wishes' card, when the paint was dry, I stuck vellum pieces behind the wings and used Sparkle Pens (Aquamarine & Cosmos) on them to echo the colours in the background. I then stuck the die cut and painted panel that I found in my 'Maybe Someday' box, I often rifle through the box for inspiration and to see if anything I've played with previously fits a current project I'm working on and was thrilled to find the piece below.

As I recall I just inked up a piece of water colour card with Picked Raspberry, Tumbled Glass & Chipped Sapphire Distress Inks, and added some of my homemade silver shimmer mist. I die cut a circle out of the inked piece and glued down the stargazing panel on to it. I stuck the panel to my card using foam tape to raise the topper and then finished it off with some stickles and glitter for the stars. Sadly I can't seem to capture the shimmer you get in my photos, but the card really does sparkle and shine.

To make the "May Your Day Sparkle" card I followed the same format as the "Fairy Wishes" card using the 'Nurture' die from the Celtic Designs range. The embossing folder used is the Docrafts 'Square Gilt Frame' embossing folder  which I used Cosmic Shimmer 'Golden Light' gilding wax on the embossed area.

The nurture die cut is again painted with black starlights, and the wings are vellum coloured with Sparkle Pens (Pink Champagne & Harvest Moon). The die cut is mounted on to a square of cards that I coloured using my ink dusting tool from Inkylicious, I used Memento inks in shades of Dandelion, Cantaloupe and Tangelo and gave the finished panel a spritz of gold shimmer mist.

My glued on coloured panel stuck out over the edge of the die cut a little so I trimmer it to fit. For the sentiment I used the larger of the mini xcut tag dies and I embossed a sentiment that came free with a magazine last year in Whisper 'Mirror Gold' embossing powder. I finished off the card by adding 4 corner die cut from Dovecraft 'Gold' Mirror Card using one of the dies in the Die'sire Decorative Corner Die Set 1. I'll be making lots of variations on a theme using these dies, including some winter ones using white Starlight paint, they are such beautiful dies, hoping to acquire more of them in the future, especially 'Timeless' the design with the cat on.

Right I'm off out in to the garden to sow tomato and herb seeds and enjoy the sunshine, it brightens my mood, I hope the sun is shining where you are and you have a lovely day, thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Coming Up Roses

In my garden I have a heavenly host of fragrant rose bushes, I love rose scented things and one of my cats is even named Rosie after my favourite flower. So you can imagine that I got VERY excited when the freebie from Issue 149 of Simply Cards & Papercraft, was an absolutely fabulous and gorgeous rose layered stamp and die set from AlteNew. I have to say I've been subscribing to over 7 different card magazines for 18 months now Simply Cards included, and this latest freebie is so far THE best one I've received and it will be used an awful lot in the future.

I wanted the roses to be the main focus of the cards, so I kept it simple and on all of the cards I stamped the WOW De-Vine background stamp on the notelet cards in a tone on tone colour, aside from the black card where I embossed it with WOW glitter embossing powder in Magic Mauve. Two of the cards had the backgrounds stamp with pearlescent ink, which helps give them some added shimmer.

I tried different types of ink to stamp the roses, pigment inks give a more solid colouring to the roses, and the dye inks were splotchy, which works, but I prefer the solid colour. In the end I stamped the first layer with pigment ink, using Versacolor inks and the second and third layers I used Memento dye based inks in complimentary medium and dark tones of the Versacolor ink, mainly because I don't yet have many colours of pigment inks, all my inks so far are dye based. The leaves were all done in either shades of Memento or AlteNew dye inks.

My stamping on these cards and lining up of the layers isn't perfect, but nature isn't perfect and the finished roses look pretty, stamping is something I'm learning as a go along, every project I do teaches me something new, whether its what not to do, ways that work or discovering how to make the best of a mistake. I did find that stamping in 3 shades of pigment ink gave me a smudgy mess, although I'm not sure if that was because I didn't let the layers dry for long enough inbetween stamping the layers?!

A point to note, when you use the dies to cut out the stamped images, the dies leave a thin area of white around the image, now in nature roses don't have white lines around the edges (unless they are bred that way with some kind of linear variegation!), so I took a make-up sponge (or you could use a blending tool) and I coloured the white area with the bottom layer ink. You can see the rim clearly on the edge of the pink and purple roses above.

I was so pleased with the free stamp and die set that I bought the AlteNew Vintage Roses stamp set and some of their Crisp & Clear inks  - although they stamped splotchy when I used them, not very crisp, but that could have been due to the card stock I used, so will try again on different papers and card before I make a proper decision. I'm waiting for the Vintage Roses dies to come back in stock over at Seven Hills Crafts, when they do I'll be getting the dies as well.

I'm loving the layered look and there are lots of layered stamp sets coming out with matching dies, so I'll be adding some more to my stamp collection in the future, I particularly want the Peony Bouquet set from AlteNew and the Vintage Flowers set also by AlteNew. Hopefully there will be other layered stamp sets coming out, I'd like some autumn leaf ones and some festive ones as well. Layered stamping is very quick to do and is forgiving if you're not a brilliant stamper like me.

If you're interested in the sentiments I used they are all die cuts and are made by 3 different companies, the Best Wishes die is one of the new Xcut Mini dies, the Thanks die is from AlteNew, I got mine from Seven Hills Crafts as I did the final Hello die which is by Neat & Tangled. One of the things I want to do this year is get some more sentiment dies for a variety of occasions and add a scoring board and a paper trimmer that can handle 12 x 12 sheets, but that's another thing entirely.

I hope you've enjoyed looking at my rosie cards, I'm toying with the idea of making some rosie notelet cards in 6's or 12's to give to people for xmas this year, I may even have a go at stamping without die cutting to make the cards flat and easier to post. Although I think I may have to scent the cards with rose oil for added effect, something that I do to xmas cards, I infuse them with essential oils of pine and cinnamon and other festive fragrances, something I'll blog about in the future :) Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my wibble, your visits are very much appreciated :)

UPDATE 29/04/2016 - FYI for anyone that doesn't have the stamps or can't get the hang of using them. There is a downloadable sheet of pre-printed flowers (two shades of pink) and leaves (two shades of green) based on the freebie Altenew set that came with Simply Cards & Papercraft recently, so you can print them off, cut them out and decoupage with them. Also works as a visual example of hot to stamp them. Not sure how long the download will remain there, but for now you can find it via the link below.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

DIY Foiling aka Foiled Again!

Regular readers of my blog will know that I'm a bit of a sparkle and shine addict, whenever possible I like to add sparkly touches to my cards, be that glitter, touches of Stickles, Glamour Dust, sparkly embossing powder, gilding wax or sparkle touches with pens like Wink of Stella or my new love Spectrum Sparkle Pens and Starlight paints.

I wanted to add more solid pieces of shine to projects though and I've been really impressed with the new hot foiling techniques I've seen some card makers do over the past few months, so much so, I wanted to recreate the effect myself to give the ultimate shine to projects. As I investigated what people were doing I realised that I didn't have a hot foiling machine or a laser printer, which meant the technique was not going to be a viable one.

Foil works best on toner inked images because it transfers better when the foil makes contact, some magical chemistry happens, which I haven't fathomed yet. Makes me wonder if someone will bring out a toner ink pad in the future?! Then a few months ago I watched Jennifer McGuire's YouTube video on adding foil to cards using embossing powder and a cheap laminator and I got my hopes up!

The image I posted at the beginning was my very first attempt, I ended up with a foiled piece, but it wasn't so good, it didn't transfer well in places and it also smeared in others. I threw my dummy out of the pram and decided that I would have to wait to be able to buy a laser printer and a foiling machine.

Several weeks later, I decided to have another go, but this time I did a little more research and I realised that I'd done several things wrong the first time: -

1) I turned on the laminator and ran the piece through as soon as the green light came on, yes the laminator is ready, but it isn't hot enough!

2) I used a cheaper embossing ink, and a coarser grade embossing powder, my examples below will show that you get totally different results depending what sticky medium you use.

3) I used cheap foil! I found a foil art kit in 'The Works' for £3, compared to foils I've since bought its a lot thinner and not as easily transferred. It's designed to work with cold glue on to paper.

In all my examples I used a Tesco A4 Laminator that I've had for a about 8 years, I used it a couple of times for what it was intended for, but it has sat in a cupboard ever since not being used. Lets be clear, if you're expecting professional results you won't get them, its not 100%, however it does, when done right give a very acceptable result. So with those points in mind I decided to try again, this time making some changes and this is what I discovered: -

Temperature Matters - I turned on the laminator and left it to warm up for 30 minutes, the hotter it is the better the results you get will be. Once you've stamped your image, applied and heat set your embossing powder you have to let the image cool down BEFORE you run it through the laminator, see the gold image below. You also have to allow it to cool down a little before you remove the foil.

Sticky Medium Affects Results - In the first example here I used Ranger Sticky Embossing Powder, I did let it cool, however as soon as the heat from the laminator hit the sticky embossing powder, it heated and pooled to give the puddled mess at the top of the image!

In the bottom part of the image above I used WOW Clear Gloss Super Fine embossing powder and allowed it to cool after heat setting, placed my foil on top, ran the card through the laminator and got a near perfect result. In my original image (the 'Wishes are Magic' Tim Holtz stamp) I used Clear Papermania Embossing Powder, which isn't that fine, it works for solid images, but if you have lots of detail on the stamp you're using, then the finer the embossing powder you use, the better the result!

It also helps if you use an anti-static tool to help prevent getting the embossing powder where you don't want it. I have to add that I've discovered that the type of ink used will also affect the results, in the very first example I used Dovecraft Clear Embossing ink, its not good for this technique. I then tried using a Clear Tsukineko Emboss pad, results were better, but no where as near as good as using Versamark, which is also made by Tsukineko strangely. As an aside I'm fast discovering Versamark is making all my embossing more successful, its like the Rolls Royce of embossing inks, until I find something better, but so far its the best I've tried, but I digress...

Type of Foil Matters - I've shown the results given from cheap foil in the opening image, I've discovered that the best results come from foil that has been designed to be used with heat and the best colour range so far and performance results I've experienced is from the iCraft 'Deco Foil' range made by Therm-O-Web, I particularly love the rainbow foil. Point to note is Deco Foil can be used on fabric and once heat set its permanent, it can also be used on wood and on porous surfaces.

I've also got good results from WOW Fab Foil, and they also come in a good range of colours. N.B. the gold hello image here shows what happens if you don't allow the heat set image to cool before it goes through the laminator! In the example at the top of the image I heat set it, added my piece of foil and put it through the laminator, without allowing the embossed image to first cool down and you can see it all smudged and smeared.

I used the same WOW embossing powder and Versamark ink combination, heat set it and allowed the image to cool for 60 seconds, gently wafting the image in the air like a fan to cool it. Then added my foil and put it through the laminator and the result can be seen at the bottom of the image. I was so happy with the result of this image that I literally shrieked with delight and my hubby came running up the stairs to see what had happened. Exit from the room one bemused man, not understanding the joy of a successful foiling attempt lol!

Toner IS the Bomb - I thought it would make for a good and fair test to show foiling on a piece of paper that had a sentiment which had been printed on a laser printer. As I said above I don't have a laser printer, but hubby has one at work, so I asked him to print out a sheet of sentiments for me.

This 'Fairy Wishes' sentiment is one of the toner examples. The toner acts like the 'glue' and helps to adhere the foil to the image, the results are almost flawless and a lot smoother and also faster, because you don't have to heat set an image first. However, you are limited to files that you can create or download and put into a word document or paint package on the PC, or the expensive pre-printed sheets that some of the companies are now selling. With the printed toner method, although it looks fabulous, you can't use any stamp image from your cling or rubber stamp collection, unless some genius comes out with a toner based ink pad we can use to stamp images for foiling! If that sort of ink pad existed, then ANY stamp could be used on almost any thickness of paper/cardstock. Currently you're limited to whatever thickness of card/paper your laminator can cope with and as I said a limited set of designs.

However this could well change soon, as there is now a Toner Pen, and also Toner Paint on the market, I reckon toner ink stamping pads are not that far away, fingers crossed! Although I'm not liking having to wait, so I'm playing with ideas for making my own toner paint/ink, so watch this space, I just need to get my hands on some toner powder first! I hope you find this post useful and it will help you with your foiling attempts. I'll post any updates if I find anything else that works, if you've found anything that works then please let me know in the comments. :)

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Boom Bots Birthday

When I first saw these cute Paper Smooches Boom Bots stamps and dies, I just knew that they would make the perfect card for my hubby Simon for his birthday, he just happens to be robot mad! The problem was the dies were available but the stamps weren't, so I bought the dies whilst I could and added the stamps to a let me know when they're in stock alert in my Seven Hills Crafts list of things to acquire.  With the card needing to be done by the 13th April I was beginning to worry that the stamps wouldn't be available and I started to look for an alternative idea for hubby's card, but my initial idea wouldn't go away! So I was thrilled when I got an email from Seven Hills on the 3rd April to tell me the stamps were in stock, I ordered them and they arrived within days.

The initial idea I had for the card was to cut out the little robots and attach them to a metallic effect piece I created, but as I started to play I realised that they needed something softer to sit on. I stamped the images in Jet Black Staz-On ink then die cut them out. After die-cutting I coloured the robots in using my Inktense pencils and a water brush, I tried to add some shading but I'm learning how to, but I think I'm getting there :) Once the painted images were dry I went over them with a clear Spectrum Sparkle pen to give them a glittery metallic shimmer, you can see that better in the photo below.

I embossed a piece of black card with a 'Cogs' Creative Embossing folder by Craft Essentials and used my 10mm corner punch to round the corners. I next cut a piece of silver glitter adhesive foam and stuck that on top of the black card. I cut a smaller piece of white card than the silver foam and rounded the edge then embossed it with an Xcut A6 Tri-Boss Cogs Embossing Folder from the Chronology range, and fixed that to the silver foam.

I cut lots of cogs from the 9 piece Xcut Cogs die set, again from the Chronology range, I cut them in silver mirror card, these were attached to the card with cosmic shimmer glue and I added a dark grey faceted adhesive gem from my stash, I think they were from the 'Me to You' range by Trimcraft.
I attached the robots to the white embossed card with 3D foam pads and added some Glossy Accents to the 'clothes' parts of the robots. The final touch was to cut a banner in black card using the longest die from the WPlus9 Banner Trio Die set from Seven Hills Crafts, once cut I stamped it with Versamark ink with some of the sentiments from the Lawn Fawn Beep Boop Birthday stamp set, again bought from Seven Hills, I used Cosmic Shimmer Fine Detail Embossing Powder in Silver Shine to heat emboss the wording.

I was rather pleased with the finished result of this card, and I'm happy to say my hubby was as well when I gave it to him this morning for his birthday. Thanks to all the ladies from the card making group I belong to on Facebook that helped me decide if I should include the cogs or not on the final design. I'm off now to play with a new stamp set from AlteNew, yes I finally have the Vintage Rose set, I just have to wait impatiently for the die set to become available :)

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Gelli Plate & Fairies

For the past 12 months I've been watching YouTube videos and following blogs of people who are creatively using stamps from Lavinia Stamps. Secretly wanting to have a play myself but figuring that I wouldn't be able to do the stamps justice. Some of the creations of some of the talented people out there using them are breath taking.

I watched the lady behind Lavinia Stamps working her magic with inks and various sizes of gelli plates and again wanted to play. So when I went to the NEC and found the Lavinia Stamps stand I went a bit crazy and bought a total of 17 stamps, a gelli plate, brayer and some card and a variety of other items including liquid pearls and glitter. I watched Tracey creating amazing images with the new cat stamps she released at the NEC and I couldn't wait to get home to try out the techniques.

The photo above is my first ever attempt at using the brayer and gelli plate. I know it wasn't quiet right, for one I didn't "ground" the cat, and there is space at the bottom of the image but it wasn't bad for my first attempt. I admit to not liking the distress inks I used, they didn't give the vibrancy of colour that the Adirondack inks that Tracey uses do, and I haven't got the hang of the liquid pearls and glitter application yet as well, but I'll get there!

I tried again the day after, this time to create a card to enter in to a Enchanted/Fantasy challenge on the DoCrafts forum. The lady gave the brief of creating a project with spring colours of green and yellow and the project had to have a fairy and an animal in it. As I love the Tree Goddess 'Luna' stamp so much I used her again for this card.

At the time of creating this card, I didn't have any Adirondack inks, so I used distress inks again. They work, but they are a lot paler and wishy washy than I wanted, I've since acquired some Adirondack ink pads, so I'll be playing again soon.

I used a square of card to colour on the gelli plate and die cut it with a nested circle die, using the next size up to cut a mat in green core-dinations card. The ivy leaves I made ages ago and were in my "Maybe Someday" box, they're done using shades of green distress inks on water colour paper and then die cut with the 'Small Ivy' die from Britannia Dies.

The Fairy was stamped with Black Onyx Versafine ink, flowers and gems from my stash, I used Memento inks to stamp the foliage and I went over the wings with two colours of sparkle pen in Rose Quartz and Clear to give them some shimmer, the final touch was some dots of perfect pearls dusted with iridescent glitter. The circular topper is stuck to a 7" x 7" card and the green wood effect paper is printed off on my computer from my 'Flights of Fantasy' CD Rom from Crafters Companion.

I was rather chuffed today to discover that my card had been picked as the winner of the challenge, now its up to me to host the next Enchanted/Fantasy challenge, I've picked a theme, just need to decide what I want people to do around the theme.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Quick Make - Miss You Card

Yesterday I made a quick card to send to a friend I haven't spoken to in a while, I made it with some new stash that arrived yesterday morning from Seven Hills Crafts.

I used the large balloon die from the Paper Smooches - Balloons die set and the Paper Smooches - Scripty Sayings stamps to make the strings on the balloon. I'd had an idea like this in my head for a while, but my hand writing isn't very good, so attempts to write scripty strings failed epically. So when I saw the stamp set, I knew it was going to work and I think it did.

It was very simple to put together, yet looks very effective if I do say so myself. First I stamped the sentiments in Black Onyx Versafine ink on to smooth white stamping card, there is a break in the lettering on the 'Miss You' sentiment so I used a fine line black pen to join the two words together. Next I cut the balloons in pink and lilac adhesive backed glitter foam and stuck them down above the end of the string. I used the fine line pen again to drawer across the bottom of the balloon to make it look like the string was tied to the balloon and added a couple of tie loops.

I rounded the corners of the balloon panel with a 10mm corner rounder and stuck it on to a piece of paper from a Wild Rose Studios 'Peach Blossom' paper stack, then mounted that panel on to a card mount I made from white linen card from The Range, rounding the corners of the pink paper panel and the card base with the same 10mm corner rounder to echo the curve of the balloon. The final touch was to add to Papermania 'Sparkling Stars' adhesive gems in bright pink and purple to finish it off. I did try sequins but they didn't look right.

I'm going to make some more of these for my CP box, the stamp set has sentiments like 'celebrate', 'smile', 'friends' and 'love ya', so I can do a variety of cards for different occasions.  I'm off now to get this card in the post to let me friend know I'm thinking of her, then its time to make some more cards for my CP box.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Purrfect Combination

I was checking out one of the card mags I subscribe to recently and noticed a stamp and die set that was being sold by a company called Make The Day Special, who have since changed their name to Seven Hills Crafts I subsequently purchased the set I saw, but can't say what yet because I'm using it to make a card for a special someone who will see this post and I'll spoil the surprise!

Suffice to say I was so impressed with the service at Seven Hills Crafts that I've made several purchases since. The above cards are made using part of my latest purchase, the cats stamp and die are by Neat & Tangled and come with a selection of cat lover sentiments. I've made a couple of cards to send to some of my cat mad friends and I think there will be several variations being made for the Cats Protection box as well.

Tara at Seven Hills Crafts not only gets your orders to you at lightening speed, she is very helpful and encouraging. The beauty of Seven Hills is, if like me you're a fan of the American stampers like Jennifer McGuire and Kristina Werner you'll be familiar with the stamps they use from American companies like Simon Says Stamp, Lawn Fawn, AlteNew, Mama Elephant and the company I mentioned above Neat & Tangled? You'll also know how hard it is to get hold of them in the UK when they first get released, without buying them from America and with shipping and import tax the stamps ending up costing twice as much!

Seven Hills Crafts carry all the brands I've mentioned and more besides, great prices as well and NO import tax, they even do inks and re-inkers for a lot of the American brands as well! When I found them I was like a kid in a sweet shop, suddenly all those cards I'd watched Jennifer and Kristina making, I could attempt to make my own, based on their designs. Whoooo hooooo!

When I checked their website earlier this week I noticed that Neat & Tangled had released the Purrfect set I used above, so when it arrived I got stuck in, regular readers of my blog will know that I'm new to colouring so I'm learning and readily admit that my coloured images aren't perfect, but I do think I'm making a little progress, but to do this well you need to understand light and shadows and things I don't fully grasp yet, but I'm working on it.

This is the first of the cards I made using the Purrfect stamps and die, each card is done on a 6" x 4" card blank. I embossed the card using my Lea'bilities 'Hearts' embossing folder. After embossing I coloured in the hearts with a Spectrum Sparkle pen in shade 'Cosmos'.

I coloured the cats with my Inktense pencils and stamped the banner in Jet Black Staz-On ink. The hearts are in the die set and were coloured with an 'Electric Pink' Sharpie pen and then covered with Glossy Accents to give them some shine and dimension.
The next card I again used inktense pencils to colour the cat and a 'Red' Sharpie pen to colour the hearts. The background was stamped in Versamark using a JustRite 'Chevron Stripe' background stamp.

I used WOW 'Clear Gloss' superfine embossing powder and then used inktense pencils in shades of red, orange and yellow to colour the bits that weren't embossed. Finished off by lightly wiping a wet baby wipe over to clean the embossed image and blend the inks.
Card number 3 had the same glossy accented hearts this time coloured with a 'Turquoise' Sharpie. The cats I didn't colour for this project, I'd used distress inks in Hickory Smoke and Iced Spruce to create a background for another project and I had some scraps left over. So I stamped and die cut the cats out of a piece of that.

The background I used the same technique as card 2, this time using a JustRite 'Embroidered' stamp and colouring with inktense pencils in blue and greens and finished off with peacock feathers distress ink. I cut the background wonky I noticed when I added it to the card base, so I 'saved' the disaster my gluing strips of turquoise glitter foam to the edges. The sentiment was a free download I got ages ago and was in my 'Maybe Someday' box.

The last card (for the moment anyway) I did for what I thought was to enter the Monthly Craft Challenge over on the Seven Hills Crafts Blog. I put the card together reading the bit that said "This month we're playing with colours and we're feeling a little 'blue' so all of our schemes this month feature blue", off I went and made the card in shades of blue. When I came back to enter it, I read the whole thing and noticed that your were supposed to work with one of the three palettes provided picking a blue from them and using other colours from the palette, doh!

Oh well! It's a good card, I used the same background stamp as I did for card 2, this time using Blue Sketch and Tumbled Glass distress inks to colour the background. The cats were coloured using a mix of Tumbled Glass distress ink and blue and pink shades of Inktense pencils. The banner was made from an offcut from the edge of the background and the hearts are again coloured with a Sharpie this time in 'Blue' and glossy accented. I mounted the panel on some thin blue glitter foam to give some sparkle to the card. The sentiment was stamped using 'Majestic Blue' Versafine ink.

I can see this stamp set and dies getting used a lot, I have lots of cat friends and the Cats Protection will love them. I have another cat stamp and die set to play with this time by WPlus9 which I also got from Seven Hills in their sale, so watch this space :)

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Getting Organised - Ink Swatches

I don't know about you, but now that I'm getting better at stamping and given that I've become addicted to using distress inks, I'm amassing lots and lots of ink pads, in a huge variety of colours and remembering which I have and remembering what the colours actually look like when they get stamped is getting harder.

This photo shows some of the ink pads I have, there are more to my side and I also have a box of Distress Inks, a box of Adirondack dye ink pads, a box of alcohol inks and an assortment of dye ink and distress sprays. All this and we're not yet even looking at the number of paints, waxes and embossing powders I have! All of which adds up to colour confusion.

On top of this, I've recently discovered the delights of over stamping to create images of things like flowers, using the different stamp pieces that form the flower or leaf, and a selection of dark, medium and light complimentary toned inks you can create some beautiful images. I recently got a free rose stamp and die set from Simply Cards & Papercraft, as I looked at my inks in order to begin playing with the stamp and die set, I realised things were everywhere and I didn't really have an idea of which colours went with which colours.

The above card was made using the free die and stamp set I mentioned above and was stamped using a combination of Versacolor Pigment Inks and Memento inks, for anyone interested - Main colour Versacolor pigment ink in 'Orchid', mid tone layer Memento in 'Rose Bud' and top layer Memento 'Lilac Posies'. Leaves main colour Memento 'New Sprout', mid layer colour Memento 'Bamboo Leaves' and top layer colour is Memento 'Cottage Ivy'.

I used a WOW De-Vine background stamp and stamped it with Docrafts Artiste Pearlescent pigment ink in 'Dusky Rose' on to a pink card base. The tone on tone idea I got from the lady I'm about to talk about below, a constant source of inspiration and brilliant ideas.

I'm a fan of Jennifer McGuire, she puts together some amazing cards and she also shares some fabby ideas and techniques on her blog and on YouTube, including ways of organising your crafting tools to ideas for using your stash in different ways to get the most out of it. It was whilst browsing her videos that I came across her idea for making ink swatches, so you could see the actual colours that you get on paper and you can use those swatches to mix and match your colours to get the best results, it also stops you buying an ink pad you already have!

On her blog Jennifer has a video showing her system, she cuts the pieces of card in to 2" x 2" squares that she then puts into small vinyl pockets - the kind that coin collectors use - she includes print off sheets for all the major US ink colours like Ranger, Mama Elephant, Lawn Fawn, Hero Arts etc on her blog. For those not included in her lists, Jennifer has provided a downloadable and editable sheet that you can add your own ink range to, I've done it for Adirondack Dye Pads, Memento and Artiste inks. 

I've gathered all my swatch sheets together in an A4 ring binder, I do plan to put them altogether grouped by colour in the future when I can find some coin holder pages, for now they are grouped by brand. I think its a brilliant idea, you can use the type of card you stamp on most to see what you will end up with, and organise them by colour, by tones etc. My next task on the organising front is to add stickers and labels to inks that stack on top of each other so you can see what colours they are.

Brands like Memento have a colour swatch on the side of the lid, which is pretty helpful, although the colour on the lid, isn't the actual colour you get when stamped, but at least you can identify shades and colours roughly. If you check Jennifer's blog there is a video and tips on doing this like the one above. When I've finished sorting out my ink pads, I'm going to do the same for my sprays, embossing powders and paints. When the jobs finished I'll be able to look at everything and gather together the colours I want for a project using the swatches, and then go retrieve the inks from their racks/boxes. Instead of like currently getting everything out and faffing until I've found the right ink for the job.

Friday, 8 April 2016

March 2016 Hobbycrafts Show and the TODO Experience

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Hobbycrafts Show at the NEC, it was my first time there, at a craft show at least, and after I bought the tickets I heard that it was not as good as it used to be, and that not many companies were there these days, the negative comments almost, at one point, made me decide to sell my ticket and not bother going. As it turns out I'm thrilled that I decided to make my own mind up and just go along. I'd read some people complaining that there were lots of dies being sold off cheap, mostly Tonic and Sue Wilson, exactly why there is an influx of these dies cheap I'm not sure, but I took advantage of the some of the deals and got dies that were originally £22 for £8!

I bought a few Tonic dies, some I'd been looking at for a while but didn't want to pay upwards of £20 for, and a couple of the relatively new cat dies. I also found a fabulous 'cogs' die by Joy, a company I'd never encountered before, and also a bunch of different shaped balloons die and a teapot and cups die set. Plus I added the oval and rectangle Presscut nesting dies to the circle and square ones I'd been given for Christmas.

There were as some people pointed out lots of places selling dies, but I also got to visit Lavinia Stamps, Imagination Crafts and several other companies I've been wanting to buy from for a while. There were demos and offers and the bonus was I got to meet up with my sister-in-law who is a big fan of Lavinia Stamps like me, she's been playing with LS stamps for a while though, I was an LS virgin. My SIL Sally also loves sewing, I actually only did the paper craft section of the show, she did all the sections. I enjoyed it so much I'm going to go along to the Christmas one in November, my SIL says its a better show with more people there.


Whilst I was there I saw a demo of the TODO on the Craft & Create stand, based on the demo and asking lots of questions I parted with £200 to make my foiling dreams a reality. Before I made the purchase I ummed and ahhhed because I already have a Big Shot and a Big Shot Plus, so I knew that I didn't need another die cutting machine. And as I wasn't that impressed with the letterpress aspect of the TODO, the main and only reason I was attracted to the machine was the hot foiling aspect, something I want to do on cards and projects and not having a laser printer I can't use toner ink print outs. However, £200 is a lot to spend in 1 go for a machine, but I figured the cost of a laser printer and toner initially would be more and the TODO wouldn't require toner top ups, so it would be worthwhile and it would work as a back up die machine.

As My priority for buying the machine was to hot foil, I thought it would be a good idea prior to my purchase to ask the young girl demonstrating some questions to find out if the TODO would do what I wanted. First I asked if I could use all of my existing rubber and cling stamps to stamp an image with ink like Versamark on to card and then use the TODO to foil it, she said YES! When I got home I discovered that the answer is in actual fact NO! You can allegedly use your dies to cut out shapes and then foil on to them, but primarily you have to use the TODO hot foil plates that C&C sell, which are not cheap to buy.

Additionally in my eagerness to get foiling, I failed to make a mental note of the fact that the TODO hot foiling plate is only approximately 15cm x 11cm so if you wanted to foil a project bigger than that you're stuffed! The TODO came with a bundle of stuff, mostly embossing folders and some dies, as well some hot foil plates. The girl demoing was doing so using a rose blossom foiling plate, I asked if it was included in the bundle of stuff that came with the TODO, she said it WAS, it WASN'T. What was in the bundle was the die, I didn't want to cut dies of the roses, I wanted to hot foil them on the cards, so I needed the rose blossom foil plate. It would have been an additional cost, and I really didn't want to spend more than I already had done.

I also asked the girl if you could use any foil, she said you could, I came home, and discovered that you CANNOT! You can only use the TODO foils that can only be purchased from Create & Craft in packs of 6 at £14.99 plus postage, and as they come in packs were they dictate the colours I wasn't impressed. The bundle didn't even come with even a small sample of foil to try by the way, which I thought was a bit silly. They could have added one less embossing folder, and including some foil, card etc so that you could play straight out of the box, if you were a new card maker, you wouldn't have everything to hand, but hey ho.

When I tried the TODO, I really wasn't impressed with the way it handled, like the lady above I discovered that with the roller being on top of the machine, it had very little grip and things were sliding everywhere, I found I had to wrestle with things to get them to go through the machine smoothly. The settings they recommend for embossing etc look good on paper, but there was an awful lot of messing about, putting something through, discovering it hadn't worked and putting it through again at a higher or lower setting. One of the reasons I gave up using the Xcut Xpress machine and was happy when Sizzix brought out the Big Shot Plus.

I didn't get to try the hot foiling because I didn't have TODO foil, but I'd seen enough to know the machine wasn't for me, so I returned it. The best thing about the experience was how easy it was to return the machine, I had to wait for my refund, but it finally came through today, hurrah! I tried out a few alternative hot foiling methods and have had some degrees of success and failures depending on what I used and how I did it, but I can now hot foil with an old laminater, I plan writing a post on my findings with photos soon.

I'll be upfront and say that I'm not a big Create & Craft fan, their show bores me, its all about selling and less about creativity and inspiring people to craft, they just want to get people to buy the products they sell at hiked up prices. Their demo's I've found are rushed and they don't really explain techniques and they sell the same stuff by the same companies, there is no variety. I've only bought from them on two occasions before, when I first got in to paper crafting, thinking I was getting a bargain and discovered after my purchases that I could have found the same item cheaper elsewhere.

After the NEC purchase, I received 3 phone calls from C&C informing me that I could have saved £20 at the NEC on my TODO purchase if I was a C&C club member, and they'd fix that for me whilst on the phone if I paid them £20 to join the club. Would they give me the discount back dated on my purchase to make the membership worthwhile? Hell no, they wanted me to give them another £20 making a total of £220 to become a member of a club that I cannot justify being a member of. I wouldn't buy enough from them to make the £20 back in a year and I wasn't interested in their magazine or badge. Which is what I told them the first time they called, so why phone on 2 other occasions?!

As for the TODO, after trying it out I really am not impressed and scouting around the internet I see that there are a lot of people struggling with it, I think for what it does its vastly over priced and under whelming. A few people are getting on with it well, but the fact that lots of people are having problems and no two people get the machines to work on the same settings that the manufacturers give is alarming. At least with my big shot I don't nearly lose a finger trying to hold an embossing folder in place. In my opinion, if you have a die cutting machine already, save your money and invest in a dedicated hot foiling machine. I have one on my wishlist, but I'm waiting for one to come out that doesn't require toner printing first, although the likelihood of that is slim, so I'll muddle through with the laminater for now :)