Wednesday, 31 March 2010

My month in numbers: March

March. By far the busiest month of 2010 so far for me and here's a number of reasons why ...

250 = the number of miles we travelled - by car, train, black cab and on foot - to see David Sedaris live at the Leicester Square Theatre in London.

If you're saying "Who's David Sedaris?" then you've obviously not spent enough time in my company! If you had I'd have either thrust one of his books under your nose before now or at least sent you a link to one of the many videos of him on YouTube.

However I do get this chance to tell you that he has a new series on Radio 4 starting this Friday!!! I'm giving you
this link to it as my part of the bargain - your part of the bargain is to do your best to listen to it on Friday or 'Listen Again' via the Radio 4 iPlayer or the website etc! If you don't, I may have to reconsider our relationship ....

He's possibly my favourite living writer and humorist and thus he was on the list of people I would [literally] go the extra mile to see if they ever toured in the UK. Which he did. So the effort had to be made.

His show consisted of him reading from his upcoming book, from his previous essays and from his personal diaries. I could seriously sit here and try to recount the whole eveing for you but let's just say it was funny.

250 miles worth of funny in fact.

Oh and as if March 13 2010 wasn't already on track for the award for 'best day ever', he did a book signing after the show and we got to meet him. We got to meet him!

I keep telling myself that one day soon it'll sink in and I'll realise that I met David Sedaris ...
... and he signed my book ... and also doodled an "Abraham Lincoln trapped in a turtle's body' on it ... and he asked what our hotel was like ... and talked to James about carpets ... and he guessed from our accents that we were "from the far North" ... and he gave me some hair conditioner ...

125ml = the amount of Bliss Lemon + Sage conditioning rinse, taken from a New York hotel, that world renowned humorist David Sedaris handed me at the book signing:
He had a Tesco bag beneath the table from which he produced toiletries and complimentary items purloined from the world's hotels and gave them to his readers / appreciators / struck-dumb fan-girls [that was me]. It was great fun watching everyone's face as they walked away with a signed book and soem face wash!

When I get around to it, I'll make sure to let you know what washing your hair in a gift from your hero feels like. And I will use it ... because I'm worth it.

5.5 = the number of hours spent in the Victoria + Albert Museum on the same day we saw David Sedaris.
Even having spent that amount of time there we still didn't get to see everything. The place is a warren of amazingness and both its scale and its content is was somewhat overwhelming and caused us to take any opportunity to rest:

5 = the number ofcrafting friends I stayed with in a North Yorkshire cottage for a weekend full of crafts and laughs. [I know there's only 5 of us here but I haven't got a photo of all 6 of us ... give me a break, I'm doing my best.]
73 = the number of days late we ate a full Christmas lunch while in the cottage:
Or perhaps ...

294 = was actually the number of days we ate Christmas lunch early!

'Marchmas' was so much fun we've already planned our next weekend which, the last time we discussed things, is going to have a Trick or Treat theme ... despite being almost 2 weeks after Halloween.

44 = the number of haunting-yet-sweet little faces staring out at me from a shelf on the
Art From The Heart stand at the Harrogate Papercrafts Extravaganza:
While I did wonder how much use I'd get from this oddly wonderful Stampotique stamp I decided that I really couldn't bear to go home without taking all those imploring faces with me!

OK then, one last one ...

17 = the number of months I've been a part of the very special
Gauche Alchemy design team ... and I've now made the decision to move on. I'm still going to be a part of the GA family only in the role of an errant child who's forging her own path and dropping in on the folks every once in a while.
I made my final DT blog post yesterday in which I attempted to explain this layout:

As I hope this page proves .... I might have taken the girl out of Gauche, but there's no taking the gauche out of the girl! [If you get a chance - drop in on the GA blog this week - where there's all manner of festivities planned to welcome in the new DT].

That's it then. Enough with the numbers.

Cheerio March. I'm heading into the new month fortified by:

  • a new sense of creative direction;
  • the knowledge that I have fabulous friends who'll go to extreme festive lengths to have a great weekend away; and also
  • the delightful thought that I have someone who'll travel the length of the country just so I get to see another man who makes me laugh.

But, perhaps most importantly, I'll be heading into April with silky soft, manageable, hair!

How about you?


Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Blog hop: Heat-embossed flower card

Hello you!

If you've dropped by from Debbie's blog as part of the the first
Banana Frog blog hop then greetings to you, pause here a while why don't you? Rest those legs.

If you're here by fluke, serendipity, downright nosiness or the wonders of Mr.Google then 'hola' to you too. Everyone's welcome.

And if you dropped by on the off chance that today would be the day that I'd be sharing a project based on something I found inside a pair of men's trousers ... then wow, is today your day or what?!!!

If you're faint of heart, fret not, it's all quite above board because:
[a] they're lovely brand-spanking-new trousers;
[b] they're from Desigual - an amazingly creative brand and;
[c] they belong to my partner of 18 years.

See, nothing untoward going on here, it was all in your head! Now we've got that cleared up, feast your eyes on these delights: Fabulous or what?

From the outside they're a fairly conservative pair of neutral summery trousers, while on the inside there hides the treasures [to a crafty pattern obsessed girl] of a flowery waistband lining and contrasting pockets!
Add in a yummy twill ribbon, a tiny amount of lilac-grey trimming and the brand slogan of '[Desigual]Is Not the Same' embroidered on the pocket ....

.... and my goodness!!! ... Has a man's trousers ever given a girl such pleasure? [Be careful how you answer that!]

My Mr. bought them while we were in one of London's Desigual stores recently. Have you ever been to one of their shops? It's one of the few places on earth where he's failed to find me in a crowd while I've been wearing my yellow coat!

The place is a living kaleidoscope. It's awesome. In every sense of the word.

Needless to say, it was me who'd spotted them and thrust them at him for his perusal. He's colour-blind and I alway feel a responsibility to draw his attention to any anomalies he won't have noticed, so I pointed out that the flowers were actually orange, lime green and purple. My thoughts were that while he may accept their floweriness, the colours may be a bridge too far.

To my surprise he willingly tried them on and bought them despite also being made aware that the turn-ups were lined in the very same fabric. It's enough to make a crafty-girl proud!

OK then, now I've shared the trousers with those of you interested in trousers, I'll move onto the reason the rest of you are here .... the Banana Frog stamped project. This month's theme was 'Flowers':

No prizes for guessing where I got the idea for a loud summery daisy-print design from!

I decorated some textured white card and a chipboard flower using Crafty Notions spray inks; two of the flower stamps from the new 'Super Dreamy' set [you can get 15% off Super Dreamy and Build a Daisy this week using the code M30NEWS at the checkout!]:
... and a lot of embossing powder. A lot!

I used a combination of stamping on the bare chipboard in ink; stamping then embossing; and simply pressing a VersaMark pad onto areas of the chipboard and dousing it in embossing powder:I love how it turned out and all I can say is that if you're a piece of die-cut chipboard within my reach the next time I get crafty .... you're going to find yourself wearing a heavy-duty embossing powder coat my friend! Beware!

If you like the idea of taking inspiration for a craft project from something else entirely [like a pair of trousers!] then you'll like my other blog The Copy + Paste Project. There Kirsty Neale and I share lots of things from outside papercrafting which inspires our artistic work.

Right then, I'll let you go now to the next stop on the hop, which is to see Anthea's blog here :

  • If you want to share any of your Banana Frog work then don't forget that there's a Banana Frog Flickr group set up especially for that.
  • There's also and a Copy+ Paste one too, into which you can drop your photos of projects inspired by any of our posts.
  • Failing that - Tweet me, leave me a comment or send out a carrier pigeon.

Go forth and be inspired crafty types.

But, please, if you're going to go looking inside a man's trousers for inspiration ... be careful won't you? !!


Monday, 29 March 2010

Quote: A green bough

If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.

Chinese Proverb

Photos: a mini-canvas made in a masterclass given by Gail on our recent crafting break. You can see her original designs here and here .

Sunday, 28 March 2010

You can't take my Liberty.

The new Liberty of London homeware designs for Target in the US have been the talk of blogland and Twitter for several weeks now [at least it has in the blogging and Twittering circles I frequent!].

Then, this week anyone in the UK who'd been pining for the chance to get their hands on some of its flowery wonderfulness had some good news, as it's now available via

Seems like the gods of all things print + pattern are smiling on us!

So, having thoroughly browsed what's on offer [and, not for the first time, wished I had a birthday soon so I could start a wish list!] I added a few Liberty-esque patterns to my 365
pattern collecting set in my Flickr gallery.

Just a few flowery items from my wardrobe including what I consider to be my first real 'party' dress since I was 12!


The first time I wore the dress was when I attended a wedding reception which had live music greeting the guests as they arrived. As I walked through the doors the banjo player exclaimed "I like your dress". Which all sounds rather flattering doesn't it? Yet ....

... considering that this is what he thought would be a good idea to wear when he got up that morning:

...I'm not entirely sure if I could take his words as an unfettered compliment ...

Anyway, here's a few old projects featuring floral prints, for good measure:

Pretend That You Love Me!
'Yes' Circle Journal - back cover
5. Fireplace

Before I go, as I mentioned in my previous post about patterns - where I unleashed my inner leopard - I seem to have got into a habit of accompanying my pattern posts with a suitable show tune. Today I've wracked my brain for a flower-themed musical tune and the best I can do is the following from the Flower Drum Song.

I suppose that anyone who can put their hand in their wardrobe and pull out 9 flowery items without even trying must, in some quite obvious ways, enjoy being a girl:

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, 25 March 2010

Overheard: Horsing around

The following bizarre, context-dependent, statement was made by a games department lecturer during a lecture [Feb 09]. I love how in the course of my job I get to hear sentences such as this!

Games lecturer: You have to read the text book to the horse so it falls asleep. Then you can get its teeth.

Of course you do. Apparently she was describing how you achieved something in a computer game, but you knew that already ... didn't you?

Nostalgia Trip

Photo: Layout from Summer 09, made using a combination of Whitby donkeys and Banana Frog stamps.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Quote: The Readiness

If it be now,'tis not to come;
if it be not to come, it will be now;
if it be not now, yet it will come:
the readiness is all.

William Shakespeare - Hamlet Act5; Sc2

Photo: A sculpture in the Newby Hall: Contemporary Sculpture Park - 09 season.

Sunday, 21 March 2010


Temenos from the Greek verb "to cut": a piece of land cut off and assigned as an official domain, especially to kings and chiefs, or a piece of land marked off from common uses and dedicated to a god, a sanctuary, holy grove or holy precinct. [Source]
Today we took a little post-Sunday-lunch drive / stroll to visit the makings of Anish Kapoor's huge 110m x 50m Temenous sculpture in Middlesbrough:

It's a work-in-progress but it's still impressively imposing.
Eventually these wires, once fully strung, will form a twisted tube shape suspended between two giant hoops. [You can read more about it
here and catch up on its latest developments here]. I make no secret of my adoration of Antony Gormley's Angel of the North [see the layout and the blog post!], and I hope that Temenos comes to gain something of the respect and fondness that the angel acquired over time.

Personally, I'm really excited about the whole Tees Valley Giants project and can't wait to see them completed. You might want to start taking bets on when a fully completed Temenos, in all its glory, makes its debut on a layout!

So, should you find yourself visiting me, you now know what I'll be dragging you to see.

What's the one thing you'd want to show off if I dropped by your home town?

J :)

Friday, 19 March 2010

... and I quote ...

Greetings all.

If you've dropped by to see me from Rebekah's:
...then hello there, how's the birthday girl doing? Did she send you here to see if there were any quotes you could use in your crafting ... or did she tell you all I'd be supplying the alcohol? I certainly have some quotes and I even have alcohol ... but I've not found a reliable way to attach that to a blog post just yet so the words will have to sustain you for now!

If you've not dropped in on me from Rebekah's then hello to you too please play nice with my new guests.

Rebekah thought that some of her readers might find inspiration from some of the quotes I've been adding to my blog over the last few weeks. As I'll be adding a new one each week, I've created a page to keep track of them all. See that tab called, appropriately enough, 'Quotes'? Up there ^^^^^^? Yep that one under the header? Well, that's the list I'll keep updating so do drop in on me again sometime to check out my latest quotables.

For now though, here's a link to the quotes I've blogged to date, complete with their accompanying, illustrative photos:

By Words
Books v Life
A Template
Populating Solitude
A Series of Coats
Everything I Learned
The Birds of Sorrow
No Bird Soars Too High

I hope you find something to interest you in amongst them. They're all quotes, phrases, extracts etc which I've made a note of as and when I've discovered them - so they all have a personal significance to me.

That said, I'm not averse to checking out sites such as Think Exist and Brainy Quote when I have a topic in mind but need a suitable quotation to go with it.

If you do make anyhting based around a quote you find in the list - do let me know - it'll be great to see how you interpret them.

Right then, I'll let you get back to your blog party mingling at Rebekah's, see you again soon maybe.

Julie :)

Bless your beautiful hide.

I always knew that when I reached the point of photographing my animal hide prints - for my 365 patterns project - that I'd be taking on a mammoth task and I wasn't too far wrong! I've uploaded 19 to my Chasing Patterns Flickr set so far:

Bless your beautiful hide

... and I've just found a leopard and a zebra lurking in the back of a drawer un-photographed.

It was inevitable that I'd go on safari at some point in the year but I decided to do so this particular week after seeing this in the Victoria & Albert museum last Saturday:

76/365 - Animal print; V&A museum

Fortunately the V&A allow you to take photos of most of their exhibits so I managed to add this very early example of animal pelt design to my ever burgeoning pattern menagerie! It's a fragment of silk velvet from Turkey from around 1450 - 1550 and, according to the museum description, the "pairs of wavy lines and groups of three large dots represent the pelts of the striped tiger and spotted leopard". So you see, far from being a gaudy and brash love of all things animal-print is part of a long and cultured tradition ... so there!

As some of you already know I've often allowed the wild-life to escape from my clothing and on to my scrapbook pages ....

Exhibit A: I outed myself with this,
my first ever design team project for Banana Frog: [Jan 09]

I Love Jungle Prints

Exhibit B: I matched my stripey blonde highlights with a touch of zebra on a page I made for a feature in Scrapbook Inspirations Magazine [Issue 45 2008]:

Be Oneself

Exhibit C: I added a strip of snakeskin belting and a leopard print organza ribbon to this page [also published in SI - Issue 54 2009]. Both trimmings had been sent to me by friends who know my particular pelt-based propensity:

'Captain Weird'

I could go on sharing pages which feature animal print somewhere on them, but we'd be here all day, and I think you've got the general idea by now!

A few months back I read a snippet in a magazine which made me laugh. It reported that a leopard print wall paper from B&Q had been most popular with shoppers in the North East of England! I refuse to be drawn on the accusation that I've single-handedly been stockpiling it! ;)

Right then, I'm off out for lunch, so I'll leave you with this:

After last month's 'Everything's Coming Up Roses' post and now today's 'Bless Your Beautiful Hide' I seemed to have, purely by coincidence, named a second pattern post after a song from a musical! And while I may have set myself a bizarre precedent for naming my future posts, what the heck ... I'll take any excuse for a show tune!

J x

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Overheard: In the red corner ...

Overheard in a lecture theatre prior to lecture [Games department]:-

Female student: Technology just doesn’t like me. The amount of fights I’ve had with a PS3 and a hairdryer ….

Image: Promarkers + fineliner.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Planes; trains; automobiles and bikes

Inspired by today's Scoutie Girl post 'We Scout Weddnesdays: Planes, trains, automobiles and bikes' here's a whistle-stop trip through some transport-themed ... things:


Paper Planes

Trains: James on the platform waiting for the train to London last Friday:

How come I take a photo of him looking thoughtful, wistful and cold ... while the one he took of me:

...appears to have captured me in the midst of a mind-altering vision? Why is that?

Automobiles: My post 'I'd Like tTo Copy' feature over on The Copy & Paste Project today features a few photos I've taken from a car window while in transit - check them out here.

...and bikes: Here's a page I made to commemorate getting a new bike after not having rode one for almost 20 years!:

The Bike

And here's on I made about how enjoyable it is to ride:

Freedom + Speed

And finally ....

Here's one depicting just how I felt after falling off the aforementioned new, enjoyable bike:

Happy travelling!

J :D

Monday, 15 March 2010

The 'Root of All Evil' box

This is one of the [many] projects I completed on my recent long weekend of crafting and eating with friends in a cottage ... in North Yorkshire ... in fits of laughter ... in elasticated waisted jogging bottoms ...

It's a money-box ... in case you couldn't work it out.

Based on a prototype created by Gail and Jean they gave us each a blank chipboard 'flat-pack' type box to construct and decorate and turn into a money-box.

Before glueing the two sections together we covered the top section with our chosen papers and made a hole for the coins. I decided to use up two of the faux-bois, woodgrain, papers I've been saving for something 'special' as I liked the idea of having it look like a wooden box:

Plus I reckon it was a postmodern use of materials. [But then, I have been reading a book on postmodern theory over the last week so that might explain that].

Next we had to cover the base with paper, before threading florist's wire through four wooden beads to form the feet, before gluing the two flat-pack sections together to create the cube:

Or .... as Gail memorably [if unintentionally] put it: "you need to cover your bottoms first ... then you can adjust your feet".


The stickers I used are from two sets by Lotta Jansdotter for Chronicle Books, while the 'I Want This' / 'Buy This' labels are from a set of mini-Post It style notes called Get The Hint: Wish List Tags:

I added the quote: "The pursuit of money is the root of all evil" because:

[a] as you may know, I never feel a project is complete without a few words on it somewhere and
[b] I thought it was quite ironic and clever and funny and stuff...what with it being a money-box an'all. [Obviously you may have a alternative opinion].

Unarguably I used a combination of Studio G alpha stamps and rub-ons to appear ironic, clever, funny ...and stuff.

I punched a scalloped-edged strip of Onirie paper for the border around the top then borrowed some gloves from Jan, took the whole thing outside and assaulted it with spray inks from Crafty Notions.

I used a mix of Lippy Licious - a bright pearlescent pink - and Raspberry:

I was really pleased with the final sprayed effect but I do wonder if 'Raspberry' [as seen on the skull below] wasn't something of a colour misnomer?
I was thinking that something like 'dried blood spatter' might be more suitable:
Do you think Crafty Notions would go for it? No, perhaps not ...

Hearts, wings, glitter, flowers, woodland creatures, blood spattered skulls ... one of the most interesting things about crafting with a group of people is seeing how, despite beginning with the same basic ingredients the end results are completely different:
[Photo by Hannah]

Thank you Hannah, Gail, Jan, Andrea and especially Jean who organised everything and fed us like we were royalty, for making the weekend so much fun. And, considering that Jean booked our next weekend on the day we came back from this one I think that I might have something to save up for in my new money box!