Saturday, 31 October 2009

Trick or Treat?

Spooky salutations to you.

How many trick or treaters have you had demanding your attention already? Well, you're going to have to brace yourself for a few more in a minute ... starting with me ....

In one entirely unplanned, but delightfully appropriate, segue I'm going to move on from photographs taken at my parents Ruby Wedding Anniversary to ..... Dorothy's ruby slippers on the evil feet of the Wicked Witch of the East:
As unlikely as this will sound [and it's not something you'd hear me saying every day] it's not the red shoes I want to focus on right now. Although, having said that ...ooooh shiny red shoooooes. Rather it's the striped tights. She may have been a wicked old, shoe-stealing witch but, my ....did she have style in the leg-wear department!!!

I love, love, love stripes. Starting at the bottom and working my way up: I have many striped socks [several pairs which emulate those above!] a striped dress, trousers, a multitude of stripey T-shirts; at few cardigans, scarves, earrings, a headband ... and a few wooly hats.

In fact, when I had to find a costume for a Halloween party last year ... I didn't need to buy anything new, I just raided my stripe collection:

So, for a little crafty Halloween project I decided to take these little Cosmo Cricket 'Cogsmo' guys [which came as part of my 'Geekery' kit from Gauche Alchemy]:
...and turn them into stamped, stripey, blinged-up, glittery, monsters of rock ... or something like that anyway! So welcome Mr. Nefarious:
... Miss Noir:
...and their pet... Caterwaul:
I created the self-pattern effect on my little unconventional, metal-head, monster family by stamping in black ink over the black chipboard pieces. The stamps were from the new Banana Frog 'Build A Daisy' set. 'Build A Daisy' may not seem like the first choice for Halloween monsters ... but I just *love* the graphic patterns in that set.
Then I basically just added the stripes with a white Gelly Roll pen and loaded on the metalware accessories! [Which, come to think of it, is almost exactly how I used to get ready for a night out when I was 17!]

Anyways ....'s now your turn to pull on your best striped tights and climb into your ruby slippers / killer heels / DMs / spangly ballet shoes / thigh-high boots ... whatever you're comfiest in ...because you've got a bit of leg-work ahead of you.

As you've probably noticed Kirsty Neale and I are about to begin our first ever online class. [What, you didn't know? I guess all that blog posting, tweeting, emailing, Flickr-announcing, blog advertising, Facebook updating, word-of-mouthing, roof-top-shouting, jungle-drum-beating and smoke-signal-sending we've been doing has somehow passed you by. Nevermind. It's easily done.]

To celebrate the fast-approaching first day of '12 Days' we thought we'd have a little Halloween party. We asked lots of our crafty contacts to prepare a trick for you: a little spooky something or other of their creation. Then we gave them a link to a little treat for those of you who've not yet signed up. You'll see what it is when you pop over to their place.

The first stop along your Trick or Treating route should be to a few of those who've already signed-up to '12 Days' and who are getting to know each other on our secure blog already. So, meet:

* Gabrielle, [the first student to sign-up!], is our environmentally friendly friend who's got this to share: Visit her blog to see her project in full.

* Then meet Sarah at who's admirably found time to treat you between juggling the roles of '12 Days' student and 'student with a dissertation to write'!

* Art-journalling, book-loving Kelly Harcus was also an early sign-up, pop in to see what she's prepared for you at

* And then there's Sarah LP who over at has been playing along with the pre-class quiz we set this week as well as creating a little Halloween goodness for you to visit.

After you've visited a few of our 'students' head on over to:

* to see what Anne Lawrence found time to prepare for us somewhere in between teaching students of her own!

* Then go to see Ashley Watts who is planning to spend November up to her ears in words - around 50,000 of them, in fact! She's taking part in NaNoWriMo (that's National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated), but before that kicks off, she's scribbled down a little spooky something for us here

Next we have some ladies who've recently taken to trend-spotting in their regular 'Fashion Forward' blog posts. First there's:

* Katherine's take on trick or treating at for you to visit then,

* Clair Rigby's made a little fashionable something to share with you in more ways than one - she's offering up this:
.... as a Halloween blog candy giveaway here:

* The wonderfully talented and super-friendly Sharmaine Kruijver shares her take on Halloween couture in a fabulous layout at I don't want to give too much away but if I show you this sneak peek of it:'ll probably be able to guess quite why I love it so much!!

* And, last but not least, the 'art-tart' herself , Michelle Jackson Mogford Considering how for Halloween last year Michelle, a one time theatre designer and stage manager transformed an old church into a witch's castle for a local fundraiser, I think it's safe to say she'll have something special for us!

Well, personally, I'm exhausted after all that blog-hopping. So while you treat yourself to a proper look at all that wonderful work [and mull over the decision to join the rest of us in the '12 Days' workshop] ...

.... I'm going to put my [stripey] feet up!


ps: this is a not very well disguised link to a treat.

Friday, 30 October 2009

This, that ...and the other.

Before the '12 Days' workshops begin we've been getting to know each other over on the '12 Days' secure blog. I created this little quiz for everyone and thought I'd share my answers with you over here too.

As I told everyone over there .... when answering this type of quiz you're meant to give your first, instictive responses to each of the following options. I'm going to try really hard not to justify any of my answear or explain myself ... here goes [I've underlined my choices]:

This OR That?

fabric OR paper

ink OR paint

grungy OR clean

cut with scissors OR tear with bare hands

measure OR just guess

careful OR haphazard

hoarder OR minimalist

Christmas OR Summer holidays

music OR talk radio

drive OR walk

gym OR beach

cook a meal OR buy take-away

fruit OR cake

ironing OR crafting

ironing OR vacuuming

my friends OR my own company

talk OR listen

you OR them

always OR never

half-full OR half-empty

yes OR no

If you want to play along ....then do. Just remember to send me a link to your answers or leave them in a comment for me.

Oh ... and there's one last option .... trick OR treat?

But that's a question for another day .... tomorrow to be exact.
Meet you back here then? Saturday? Halloween? About 11 ish? Who knows, there may be something special going on ....

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

A good dress can take you from 'sublime' to 'ridiculous' - no problem.

If you were one of the people who asked [a] if I'd decided to wear the outfit I picked out in my previous post and [b] if so, what did it look like on, then here's your answer. The only thing I added to the look was the leopard-spot cardigan. [Imagine the joy that particular item of clothing brings to a cold-blooded animal-print loving girl!] :

I had James take this photo of me before leaving for the party and it will eventually be part of the 'October' section in my 'My Year in Outfits' 2009 fashion journal. [Yes, I am still keeping that up despite not entirely finishing a double page spread for months! I have all photos from the past few months tucked inside the album just waiting for a time when I have nothing more pressing on the go. Any idea when that'll be?]

Now then, I could leave it there, with a carefully selected shot of me looking all serious and composed, in the flattering light of our bedroom and with a tiny helping hand from the colour balance feature in my photo-editing software.

I could leave it there. But I won't. Rather, I thought I'd share some photos taken at the party.

Blurry photos. Photos of me, after a few rum & Cokes on an mostly empty stomach [my Mam had a strange strategy regarding the optimum time for serving the hot food!]. Photos of me which I wasn't aware were being taken. [As to why James was taking photos at the time ....I've no idea, you'd have to ask him!]. Photos of me that make me look approximately 30 years younger than I am!

As I tend to do at parties, I was keeping out of the way. I think I'd been given the task of finding 'Ruby' by the Kaiser Chiefs on Youtube so we could have it playing in the background during the toast. [It was their ruby wedding anniversay ...get it??] and it just happens that the computer is behind the living room door.

Not realising I was there my Mam opened the door a little further than was strictly comfortable for me and a conversation between myself and my parents ensued which went something like this:

Dad [mildly alarmed that his youngest was about to be squished]:Your daughter's behind the door!!!

Mam [peering around the door anticipating that I was hiding there with some grand surprise party gift for her]: Oooooh why?? What are you doing????

Me [hoping that the fact she hadn't flattened me would be a grand party gift in itself]: Getting squashed behind a door.

Now, party frocks and silver shoes are all well and good .... but little bizarre moments like these are just as special and sparkly ... and worth photographing!

J :)

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby.

As of tomorrow [25th Oct] my parents will have been married for 40 years. A good excuse, if ever one were needed, to sit down, forget everything else ... and get gluey, painty and messy.

I've been so busy this last fortnight that I haven't had chance to help out with their preparations for the Ruby Wedding party they're holding tonight. Speaking to my Mam on the phone yesterday she listed the decorations she'd already bought and then added "But ...if you can think of anything else we could use ... ".

Words like that are something of a red rag to a crafting bull. So this afternoon I sat myself down with my latest
Gauche Alchemy kits and made a little hanging decoration, inspired by those which Anna has been sharing on her blog recently.

I used a sheet of chipboard for a base on to which I glued cards, sections of dress-making pattern, tickets, fabric and gems all taken from Gauche Alchemy's 'Red mixed media and papercrafting colour kit' and the Ball & Chain kit.

The handsome faces come from my parents!

I applied lots of glue, 3D gloss, powder pigment and pearlescent paint to my finished collage and to get it to dry, I subjected the whole piece to a rather brutal attack of the heat-gun. In a happy accident I realised that the heat was melting the band of sequins along the bottom edge! Watching it curl was quite transfixing and I love the curled effect it produced. I'll definitely be melting my sequins again.

[Is it just me or does that sound like a euphemism for something risque?? ;)]

Now, it wouldn't be a party without party clothes and I think I've settled on the outfit I'm going to wear tonight:
It's a 1950s style grey and white dress, burgundy tights [still not worn the purple ones yet Clair!], burgundy pearl beads and silver heels. Nothing says 'party' like a pair of silver heels does it? If the outfit works and if I get any good party phots, no doubt they'll end up on a layout on here at sometime too. [This is also my contribution to Clair and Kathrine's 'Fashion Forward' fun-blog-fashion-idea-sharing-type-play-along thingy!]

OK then, I've got lots of things to tackle on my 'To Do'. [Funnily enough neither 'make an impromptu collage of Mam and Dad' nor 'photograph what you might wear tonight' were actually on my list of weekend jobs ......].

Before I go, I want to say a huge 'Thank you' to everyone who took time to leave a comment, Tweet, Facebook, UKS message and email me after hearing about the end of Scrapbook Inspirations. I really appreciate it.

A big thanks also to those who've already signed up to the online workshop Kirsty and I will be delivering in November. If you haven't already joined us you're still very welcome to - the full details are here.

The timing of it all was purely coincidental but there was something wonderfully reassuring about having a new venture ready to announce the day after the SI news came out of the blue.

Silver linings, doors opening, first day of the rest of your life....and all that, eh?
J :) xxx

Friday, 23 October 2009

If you'll allow me ....

... a little self-indulgence ....

Since hearing the news that following the upcoming issue Scrapbook Inspirations magazine is to cease publication [and therefore my Design Team role has ended] I've been trying to stay positive despite being totally floored by it.

All week, flickering away in my head, have been the words I wrote for my introduction to my dissertation eight years ago I thought I'd literally dust them off [my English dissertation lives in a dusty box file on top of my cupboards!!] and share:
"...accepting an ending does not necessarily come readily to the human mind; more often it avoids dwelling on the ends of experiences. Collectively, we formulate evasion strategies to cope with life's inevitable conclusions. "Today is the first day of the rest of your life". "When one door closes another opens" not forgetting "it's not the end of the world" are all examples of idioms regularly employed to console those experiencing the end of something. Each one promising the existence of something beyond what looked like an ending; replacing the bleak, mournful, even self-pitying thoughts instigated by the end of a relationship, career or dream with those of regeneration, opportunity and the resilience of the human spirit. [...]"
At the moment those words give a general idea of what's running through my brain.
What they don't express is my gratitude to Rosie, Shimelle and Cara for giving a girl who wanted it so badly - the chance to prove herself - to herself - if no one else.

Thank you ladies.

Thank you very much.

J x

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Like Santa's elves ....

... over the next few weeks we're going to be busy making gifts in our workshops. These workshops to be exact:

Kirsty and I are so excited [and very proud] to be offering a series of online projects which will set you on your way to creating a beautiful hand-made Christmas .... and more.

Between us we've created 12 projects which we'll share with you with full step-by-step instructions ... but then that's only the beginning. We've adapted each basic idea and created alternative versions to suit different people, different occasions or different skill levels [eg. for men, for teenagers, a quick version etc etc].

The main projects will appear on a password protected blog during the 12 weekdays between Nov 5-20 and the weekends will be filled with additional mini-projects, fun extras, printable downloads, and general crafty chatter.

If it's something you think you'd enjoy ...please consider joining Kirsty and I. We'd genuinely love to see you there. [For full details hop over to Copy+Paste].

The whole process of putting a class together began in August with two little words: "Should we?". And look Miss K ....

....... we did!

J x

Friday, 9 October 2009

In a fashion.

One of my lovely cyber-people Clair, from Obstinate Pursuit, has teamed up with Kathrine from Paper Pocket to get us all involved in a little bit of trend spotting with their ‘Fashion Forward’ meme. For more on what the ladies are up to check out the first Fashion Forward post here.

Happily their bright idea provides me with an excuse to share some of the lovelies which caught my eye in the latest issue of Elle magazine.

Often during the summer my penchant for deep, bright, loud, clashing colours takes a back seat to a more relaxed white T-shirt, jeans and plimsolls look. But, with onset of darker wintry days, in something of a battle with the season, my colour-loving side begins to peak through again.

Which is why this page fair stole my heart at first sight:The fact that they are drawing together all those rich shades of pink under the umbrella of 'Magenta' is almost enough to make me love it as I clearly remember magenta being one of my favourite Crayola colours as a child!

I particularly like how Elle mixed the rosy richness of the magenta with the softness of peach and the neutral of grey [of which I must have at least a million jumpers and cardigans. At least.] So, in honour of this .... here's what I picked out to wear today: Whenever I wear heels for a day at home it usually means I need a bit of a lift [literally] to help me tackle a long 'To Do' list and today is no exception. [I probably could be getting more done if I hadn't stopped to write up this post though ....].

Apart from grey, I really like to combine muddy, muted greens with warmer pinks and reds so this page is calling my name too: Calling my name the loudest is the green silk Whistle's jacket in the centre. I hear you lovely little jacket ...I hear you.

As the whole 'Fashion Forward' idea is to predict trends, I'm excited to report that Leo, from Crafty Templates, seems to be loving the same shades too if this sneak peek at 'Resolutions' the next Quirky Kit is anything to go by:

Resolutions Quirky Kit Sneak Peek

Regarding the kit, Leo says "I've been getting inspiration from fashion for this kit which at the moment is a little bit modern retro - 50's pattern with 80's colours. The colours are mauve, chocolate, teal, lime, peach (only a little bit but trust me it works) and grey. It's going to have canvas too so start collecting your paints together Hoping to get it all done for early November, might even be a bit earlier than that." I can't wait!!

Now, once that kit lands on my doorstep wouldn't it be nice to have a photo of myself in a new green coat and magenta cords to scrap?

Yes. I think so.