Friday, 30 January 2009

A 'Premier' embarrassment

You've more than likely gathered by now that I like clothes and fashion? Am I right? Thought so.

What was it that gave it away? Was it that my previous post included a layout about the lengths [or rather heights] I'd go to to check out my accessories in a mirror? Or was it the post before that where I scrapped a photo of myself in a shiny new dress? Or maybe even my recent Project of the Day on the Banana Frog blog which starred some of my shoes and bags? Or even the .... oh, I've done far too many to list them here and a mere skim through my back catalogue [back scrapbook?]will demonstrate my fondness for all things fashion related.

As a little girl, when I wasn't dressing myself [I was a precocious co-ordinator and accessoriser] I was dressing my legion of beloved dolls. Some days my sister and I would spend hours dressing each and every one of our Barbies, Sindys and Kens with a particular occasion in mind ie: a grand wedding, which would undoubtedly be disrupted by an angry, wronged Pippa doll!! Sometimes the wardrobe duties would take so long, by the time all the dolls were suitably attired, we'd lost interest in even the most lascivious of storylines. I also remember experimenting with makeshift kimono-esque creations for my Cabbage Patch dolls using hand towels and safety pins - eat your heart out Issey Miyake!!

So, really, I've always liked experimenting with my clothes: from wanting to only wear mint green for a season in the mid 80s, to wearing a white cotton nightie over a black T-shirt to a nightclub in the early 90s. And I've often thought that my scrapping was basically an extension of the same area of creativitiy, in both of them I love to multi-layer, to add texture with accessories / embellishments and to make interesting and unusual colour combinations ... which reminds me....

Did I ever tell you about the time before Christmas when we stayed overnight in a hotel? The time when we were only going to be away for a night and the following day so we only took one change of clothes? The time when I carefully chose an interesting outfit to take with me, one which I'd never put together before? The time when wearing head to toe purple and yellow seemed bright, jolly and festive and unique? The time where it wasn't until we were unpacking in our room that I realised the only outfit I'd brough with me matched the corporate colours of the hotel chain exactly? The colours which where everywhere, from their reception area, along all the carpets throughout the restaurant bar and even the bedspreads????

Did I ever tell you about that time? No? Good! Because I'd be too embarrassed if I thought you all knew about that.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Randomness cannot lie.

My friend Emma tagged me on her blog to take up a photo challenge someone had set her, this is how she described it:
"Ok so here's how it works. You go to folder number 6 within your Photos on your computer and post the 6th photo in it."

It all sounded simple enough until I opened my 'Pictures' folder and found that the 6th one was filled with photos of my friend Brass's little boy and, as equisitely adorable as Little S was in his pirate costume at Halloween, I really don't think she or Mr. Brass would've been happy with me blogging his photo.

So I counted down another 6 folders and the 6th picture was this:
It's a photo of a tomato that I cut into a few months ago which I reckoned seemed to be looking at me. I took a photo of it so I could add it to the very sweet and funny Flickr group 'Faces in Places', a group where you can upload pictures of errrr ...faces... in like, errr...places. Get it?

So, on the hunt for a less weird photo to blog, a photo which might make me appear less odd I went to my newly re-arranged and recently-upgraded-to-'Pro' Flickr account [it's not just me who loves how you can have lots of lovely, organised sets and collections on a pro-account is it?] and I counted down to the 6th photo of the 6th set [isn't that how the Apocalypse begins in the Book of Revelation?] and this is what I found there:

It's a photo James crept up on me to take, while I was standing on our dining table trying to see in the wall mounted mirror what my stripey socks looked like with my new stripey Vans.

I don't really feel that this image quite fulfilled that 'less odd' criteria though did it? So I've given up searching and decided to go with it. So, what did we learn from this random number photo hunting adventure?

Well, I learned that there's no getting away from the real 'you'. You can wear your fancy new silk dresses and make layouts about thinking like a Queen all you want .... but at the end of the day, deep down, at the core, there's no hiding from the fact that you're really just a girl who takes portraits of suspicious looking fruit and who climbs on furniture like a mountain goat with style issues.

Get used to it.


Saturday, 24 January 2009

Think Like A Queen whydontcha?

This is my first layout using the Acme kit from Gauche Alchemy, and it seems to have brought out my superior, regal side!

I thought it might be interesting to share with you how I built up the layers into the finished page, so here goes:

  • I love to use patterned papers for my background and, as coral and teal are two of my favourite shades, I couldn't wait to use the amazing 'Botanical Bliss' paper from Tinkering Ink.
  • I loved the 'queen' and 'ring' images - from a sheet of definitions from a vintage kids' book - and liked the way the colours in the Queen's dress echoed in the backing paper. Now I had to think of a way to make 'queenliness' the theme of the page ... and I remembered the photo of me wearing a new dress on my birthday. And as the dress is peacock green silk with bronze devore scroll designs on it, a serious dress for me, I reckoned I have every right to look that haughty and celebrate it too ;).
  • Then comes my most anticipated point in pulling a layout together ... selecting which decorative bits and bobs within the kit colour co-ordinated with my dress and the papers, including: the fabric across the bottom; the wine bottle label beneath my photo; the rather stately Burlesque dancer from a Playboy magazine and then the strip of what I thought was formica edging but what Amy tells me is non-slip stuff you stick to the bottom of your bath![down the far right].

Yes, you heard right, my kit contained a combination of vintage girlie mag pages and DIY store treasures!!! And that's precisley what puts the Alchemy into the name [as for the Gauche part ...well, they recruited me didn't they? And I'm more than capable of fulfilling that part every now and again!].

  • Finally I picked out the green and blue enamelled earring along with the gold leaf-shaped pendant to add a little decadence and a level of be-jewelled-ness befitting of my self-acclaimed royal status!

  • In addition to the kit contents all of the soft-'furnishings', the ribbons, trims and flower, [which again, matches the Queen's dress. Oh, how I never cease to get excited when I detect a colour match!!!] were from my own stash. As was was the crown upon which I wrote my title "Think like a Queen. A Queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steping stone to greatness" which is a quotation from Oprah Winfrey.

A touch of coral and gold, some lace, a new dress, a little of Oprah's wisdom ... how can I fail to think like a Queen with all that going on ... now where did I leave my lady-in-waiting ......

Look!! Free stuff!!!

Over on her 'Scribbles and Scrappin' blog the lovely Leo [from Crafty Templates] is offering two lucky someones amongst you the chance to win one of these two very, very delicious kits:

And what do you need to do to be in with a chance? Simply leave a comment on her post and she'll draw a winner at random.

That's it. Simple as that. Who said that you can't have something for nothing? I'd enter it myself, only I might be accused of nepotism, bias and preferential treatment if I happened to win!

Now don't ever say I'm not good to you .... go on then... go forth and win something. :D

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Think of 'ACME' ...

...and what picture do you get in your head?

Something like this? Me too! I think of Wyle E Coyote trying all manner of weird and wonderful products from the Acme Corporation in his attempt to catch Roadrunner in the Looney Tunes cartoons! But think again because there's a new coyote in town ... and ... and I'm getting my analogies all tangled up! Allow me to explain. The Gauche Alchemy girls have decided to upgrade me from being their 'Designer at Large' for Autum 08 - to a permanent team member where I'll be designing with [and here's where the explanation bit really kicks in] their Acme kits!! I'll hand over to Amy to describe exactly what one of these is:

"What is an Acme kit, you ask? Well, it’s a kit full of various great stuff that hasn’t found it’s way into any of our monthly themed kits. It’s a little bit of anything and everything. We’ll be offering them for sale soon. In the meantime, keep in mind we will make one for anyone who requests one and gives us a price range to work with. How cool is that?"

Well actually ... it's this cool:
After it's long trek from sunny Arizona to still-pitch-black-when-I-get up England my pizza box of vintage goodness arrived just in time for my recent birthday. And it's wonderful!

If you've ever wanted to get any of your men-folk interested in your crafting I'd recommend you invest in a Gauche Alchemy kit. Both my partner and my Dad have spent time scrutinising many of the weird and wonderful items of ephemera that Heather and Amy pack into their kits. All I could hear was their exclamations of: 'I remember those board game pieces'! 'Hah! A match-book!' and 'What's that?'.

It was also full of lovely squares of fabric, 12x12 papers and jewel-y 'bits' and bobs, my favourites being:
1. a chunky vintage watch-face which my genius of a sister suggested would make a great helmet for a little fabric doll - imagine a little face peeking out from behind there!! Too cute!
2. and one wonderfully tactile and entirely adorable domino piece. [Domino pieces can be adorable - I've decided].
So what more could a girl ask for? You get a box of pretties which also keeps the boys quiet for a while???! Perfection!

Watch this space for future Acme projects ... that Roadrunner had better watch his step!

Monday, 12 January 2009

It's a date.

Some noteable 'January 14th's in history:

1784: U.S ratified a peace treaty with England.
1900: Puccini's opera "Tosca," premiered in Rome.
1954: Marilyn Monroe married Joe DeMaggio.
2002: UK declared free from the foot and mouth epidemic.

2009 ... my first 'Project of the Day' for the Banana Frog blog!

Here's a sneak peek of what I'll be uploading this Wednesday... it has some of my favourite patterns on it... can you guess which??? Each member of the Design Team will contribute a 'Project of the Day' on the same date each month.

So - I'll be there on the 14th ... see you there maybe? :D

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

A shining example!

This little book of quotations [which made a brief appearance in Scrapbook Inspirations Magazine: Issue 48 ] is, quite simply, one of my favourite paper-crafting projects ... ever. I just love it!

Whenever I look at it [and stroke it ...and prod it] I feel such a sense of satisfaction. It's that feeling you get when a piece of work turns into something so much more than you could have ever planned or hoped for. Yes... that feeling! So I really wanted to share it with you in more detail.

It started life as six chunky price labels from the 'Mantaray' clothing brand, much frequented by James: I usually recycle price tags in the usual sense of the word: by dropping them into our recycling bag alongside the cereal packets, tea-bag boxes and loo roll tubes. But these, with their scrolling stamp-effect designs and yellow felt adorned eyelets, seemed just a little too perfect to be discarded along with the household waste! So I decided to save them to use in some unknown scheme. From then on, each time James bought something new from Mantaray, he dutifully handed the tags over to me for safe-keeping and future use!

It must have been that tiny touch of yellow felt which inspired the whole colour scheme for the book. That piece of felt and the fabulous yellow polka-dot fabric which Brass sent to me - we both have quite a thing for spottiness. I'd been desparate to use the fabric and it seemed an ideal starting point to begin constructing a single, bright, cheery place to contain my favourite 'light' related quotes, which I'd had stored inside various notebooks ... and my brain.

(Cover) Over the top of the polka-dot fabric I used a scrap of chocolate brown American Crafts 'Hey There' PP with a cream Jenni Bowlin 'Definition' rub-on. I tore and sanded the PP before sticking it down and after a life spent accidentally tearing, denting and scratching things, I'm so happy to have found a hobby in which I can say I did it all on purpose with a specific 'look' in mind! Without the growth of shabby chic I'd be nothing!

(1) The first quotation [below] is a traditional Maori saying: 'Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you'. I've also heard a similar quote from Helen Keller who said 'Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows' which inspired me to paint a set of abstract canvases a few years ago, [you can see them here on my Flickr gallery].

I find both quotes so inspirational as metaphors for facing life with a bright attitude whenever you can. The fact that this isn't always simple is precisely why quotes like this mean a lot to me.

(2) 'Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness' [below] is a great phrase to think about just before you let yourself wander into 'self-pity valley'! I used lots of circles on these pages with the Scenic Route rub-ons, the lines of turquoise rhinestones the spotty paper and the cork dots. [Visiting me at home for the first time a friend commented on how I obviously loved circular imagery as there was so much of it evident around the house, from the art-works to the wallpaper on the landing. And honestly, until that moment, I'd never actually realised that before.]

(3) 'A candle loses nothing lighting another candle'. This quote reminds me of something my Dad says about a certain type of person who becomes good at something or who achieves a respected level of competence or skill in a job. He says that rather than being happy to share their knowledge with others who are still learning, they want to keep it to themselves and hold on to it to maintain their own status. It reminds me that if you're secure about who you are, than you shouldn't worry about sharing your skills with others. It's something I try to act out when I'm asked for advice.

I used up more scraps on these pages; cut and then bent some sections upwards to reveal the reverse of the double-sided American Crafts 'Allo' PP, layered it over some October Afternoon and used some Basic Grey 'Obscure' behind the glittery turquoise frame on the right.

(4) 'I don't mind if you don't mind, 'cause I don't shine if you don't shine' / 'the stars are blazing like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun ... when you read my mind'.
Compared to the previous quotes these are just a bit of fun - lines that always stick in my head when I hear 'Read My Mind' by The Killers. Having said that though, it was while I was writing these particular lines down in my notebook that I recognised the pattern I'd created in collecting quotes on light.

I used the rest of the scraps of American Crafts paper which were left over from a Crafty Templates Kit, handwrote onto vellum [which I adhered with Diamond Galze] and added the little yellow file card which part of a Karen Foster embellishment I found in a bargain bin!

Overall, this project cost me next to nothing as I made use of lots scraps, existing stash and things I'd swapped with friends.[James, on the other hand, had paid for all those clothes which the tags came from!]. Despite this, the value of the elements was, to me, far greater. Part of the reason Ilove it so much is that I loved every thing I put into it. It's amazing how we hang on to bits and pieces because we really like them. Why is it we feel that using them will somehow spoil them? Surely if we love them in the first place, we won't be able to help loving them in the finished project? [That's the plan anyway!].

Come to think of it, the fact that it is just that: a finished product, is another main reason I'm so happy with it! The only regret I have about that is that I didn't include another wonderful light-related quote which I've discovered since completing it: 'We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own'.

Speaking as someone who has only ever worked within the field of Education I find this quote particularly meaningful. I've always said that when I used to work with children that I recieved as much [if not more] from the experience with them as they did with me, despite it officially being intended to be the opposite way round! I did however pass the quote on to Brass, who said she'd used it on a LO, so it wasn't entirely lost to the scrapping world after all!

I really hope you've enjoyed looking at the pictures [the colours make me think of ice-creams on a sunny day - which is a useful thought right now while it's 3 degrees out there.] And if they, or any of the quotes brought a glimmer of sunshine into your dark winter days then I'm delighted to have been of service.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Banana Frog & me.

Today I found out that I was chosen to be one of the 12 new Design Team members for 2009 at Banana Frog and I am thrilled!

I took one of Bev's workshops at last Autumn's Papercraft's Extravaganza at Harrogate and she was fab - I honestly can't wait to start working for her.

That's all I wanted to say really...apart from 'eek' and 'wow' and 'yipee'!