Thursday, 30 June 2011

My Month in Numbers 2011: June


Half way. Half over. All downhill from here. Only 177 days until Christmas ...  etc etc ... which is a long and rather bleak way of saying: 'welcome to the end of June and another Month in Numbers post'.

I heard someone on the radio the other day mention that we're in the middle of summer ... and it came as quite a surprise! A quick calculation and a quick flip through the calendar in my head and yes ... despite weather evidence to the contrary it would seem he was correct. We're in the middle of summer. Already! Who knew?

Here's how my Mid-Summer numbers racked up ...

18 = the number of Halloween and Christmas themed projects I've made for magazines. Which may go some way to explain my confusion over the whole 'it's Summer' thing.

306 = the amount of miles travelled to and from 2 weekends away. One North bound, the other South. Both of which were to help celebrate 30th birthdays.

23cm = the length of a Curly Wurly bar ... bear with me ...

The restaurant we ate in, on one of those 30th birthday weekends, added a Curly Wurly for each of us in with our receipt even though, and I assure you, we were not at a children's restaurant!

I've heard people suggest that Curly Wurly's seem to have gotten smaller since we were young but in this case I didn't mind. How else would I have fit it in my handbag?
Speaking of my silver handbag, it's the 2nd silver bag I own and I also have a pair of silver heels ... and now ... I have some silver wedges. See below for evidence:

£34 = [I'm going to say this quick as I'm embarrassed ...] the price I paid in the sale, while on the weekend away, for yet another pair of shoes. These shoes in fact:
I'm quickly realising I'm a shiny-shoe magpie. And my, oh my, are these especially shiny and spangly:
678 = the colour of the dye I just put on my hair. And in case you can't picture what colour 678 is ... its alternate name was 'Ruby Red' and it looks like this:

30-ish = the number of years my Dad had a flash-back to when on a day out with this little chap:

He [the 2 year-old ... not Dad] was really eager to get into the van with 'Po Pa! Po Pa!' but another little boy was still on the ride. Then, while he was trying to wriggle away to get near Postman Pat my Dad had a little drift back in time to the 1970s, when he had an equally wriggly, eager toddler of his own ... as  he stated firmly ...

"Just wait a minute Julie".

When he realised what he'd said Dad was very amused at his time-slip-of-the-tongue. Needless to say, I did as I was told ... and never once tried to climb into that bright red van!

So those were June's vital statistics. July begins with me going away for another weekend [all this gadding about is unheard of!] but this weekend should be slightly different.

For a start, no one is turning 30 this time around and I'm definitely going to attempt to abstain from shoe-purchasing ... plus there'll be a lot more aeroplanes involved.

As ever, feel free to join in, throw me your numbers, link me to your Month in Numbers posts.

Edited to add:
  • Claireliz - my monthly statistical stalwart added another lovely number themed layout to her own  Month in Numbers album here this time round.
If I don't get back to you immediately ... it's only because I'll be rain-dodging, shoe-dodging and hot-dog hunting on my weeked away.

I really hope you had a good June but I hope your July's even better.

See you soon.


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Overheard: Priorities Grandad!


It feels like forever since I blogged. But I guess that's what happens when you schedule posts in advance! But I'm here, right now, I'm not in advance-ahead of myself, not projecting in to the future ... in fact ... bear with me while I hop backwards in time one week so I can share my latest 'overheard'.

Last week I was in a countryside town tea shop with a couple of friends. On the next table there was a Grandfather with his 7/8 year old granddaughter having tea and toasties after school. He was the perfect countryside gent complete with white hair and tweed jacket. She was an implausibly eloquent [ie. posh] little thing still looking impeccable in her uniform after a day at school.

I couldn't hear much of what they said [my friends and I were discussing the bargain books we'd just found and how much fun you can have with a piece of string ... but what I did hear .... was this:

Granddaughter: When I grow up I'm going to marry a rich farmer.

Grandfather: Well, can't it be anyone? It doesn't have to be a farmer does it?

[Note how he didn't question the need for the husband to be rich!]

Granddaughter: Yes Granddad! I want horsies!
You've got to admire a girl who knows what she wants!

Their conversation then moved on with the Grandfather telling her about how the 'big white house' near where she lived was "...on the market for £3 million ...".

So tell me ... did you ever have conversations about multi-million pound property deals when you were 8?

Because, maybe I'm just geting forgetful in my old age but ...  I can't recall any ...

Julie :-)

Overheard: Barnard Castle tea room June 23rd 2011.
Photo: taken [by me] in York August 2010.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Art Journal Challenge Week 21: Hobbies

Hello you.

How many have you messed around with? How many do you still still spend time with?

Hobbies that is ... hobbies ... of course!

That was the theme for the UKStampers art journal challenge our hobbies and how many we've had.
And I've had a lot, or at least I've tried out a lot including:
  • scrapbooking;
  • cardmaking;
  • art journaling;
  • collage;
  • cross-stitching;
  • jewellery making;
  • sewing;
  • patchworking;
  • blogging;
  • screenwriting ... to name but a few.
Basically ... if you can sit down in a warm room and do it and if it involves patterns, colours and words ... I'm there.
Which goes some way to explain the lack of sporty hobbies in that list ... the nearest I got to one of those was a few months of swimming once a week and a year or so of Tai Chi classes. But nothing lasting, nothing which has hung around like the crafty-side of things.

I've often had cause to wish that I could be more focused with my creative efforts.

I've thought that it must be great to be so 'into' one particular art/craft that you know beyond question that that's what you want to do forever. It must make choosing and sustaining a career so much simpler ... mustn't it?

But I just can't do it. I'm too flighty. I like too many things.  

Am I a 'Jack of all trades master of none' or  a 'Rennaissance crafter'? [Personally I prefer the latter ... but does it even matter anyway?].

One thing I do know, since I began blogging and contributing to magazines, is that:
  •  no matter which craft I'm working on ... one of my favourite parts is writing about it afterwards, getting to share it and encouraging others to try it out too.
And in that realisation ... I hope I've found a vocation after all!

See you soon.


Thursday, 23 June 2011

Art Journal Challenge Week 20: Food

Hi, hi.

Another day ... another UKStampers weekly challenge art journal page, this time the prompt was one of my favourite things ... food!
I wanted to try a lighter feel on these pages as the previous two have begun nicely and somehow run awaywith me getting murkier and murkier with every additional layer of ink I threw at them!

Here it was just a case of spritzing green Shimmerz through stencils on a part / messily gessoed page:
And I restrianed myself to only flicking a few other colours on top!
The cute food characters were cut from a piece of tissue paper which came from a very old Crafty Templates Quirky Kit and the rub on is from Basic Grey:
The scalloped border stamp is from Papermania, meanwhile the little mug-clutching guy below was a friend's stamp I borrowed at a crop about a year ago and I can't remember who he's by!
Whoever he is ... I coloured him with my Promarkers and gave him a speech bubble cut from  Cosmo Cricket ' paper from 'The Boyfriend' range. And his friend - the avocado - was cut from a Liz Earle catalogue!

I too have an avocado for a friend ... in fact I met up with him for lunch just yesterday ...

See you soon.


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Art Journal Challenge Week 19: Lists


Lists were the topic for Week 19 [UKStampers challenge] and unlike yesterday's post where I couldn't really claim to be a 'Domestic Goddess' ... today I can state loud and proud that I am one of life's list-makers:
I make lots of lists, but they're mainly the 'To Do' type as I'm not so great on 'Top 5' / favourite type [too much pressure!]. And many of them do indeed get written down in the ever expanding notebook collection:

And I suppose that when I blog My Month in Numbers each month, that's another form of list [with plenty of rambling going on in there too!].

I make more lists when I'm at work [at the day / term time job] including making them for my student. Some days his To Do included items such as: 'Let Julie know what time we're meeting on Friday' ...  so it all came in useful for me as well as him!

Two of my favourite things about lists:
  1. getting everything out of my head and in in front of me in black and white, safe, concrete; and
  2. being able to tick things off when they're done!

I actually spotted something via Twitter a few weeks back where people were making 'Done' lists ... rather than 'To Do' as a way to feel better about what they'd achieved in a day instead of feeling guilty about what they hadn't!

I liked the sound of that, even though I think it was mainly parents doing it, because I must admit, I have been known to start a list with something I've already finished ... just for the satisfaction of crossing it off!

Don't try to tell me you haven't done the same ...
About the page:
  1. I don't much like it! It started off OK, then went wrong and even my philosophy of 'just keep adding stuff until it looks good' failed me this time!
  2. The arrow stamps are by Studio G;
  3. The alpha stamps are Banana Frog;
  4. The doodle border stamp is by Papermania;
  5. The rub ons are 7Gypsies;
  6. The smudges are all my fault. One day I'll remember to NOT spatter wet ink over journaling I've just written with a water soluble pen!
OK then, I'll leave you to the rest of your day:
  1. I'll probably be back tomorrow with my response to the 'Food' prompt - I'm just the 6 weeks behind now;
  2. Thanks for your great comments on my recent deluge of journal pages!
  3. Thanks to those who've been pinning my work on Pinterest too - it makes me all coy and smiley when I see that!
Julie :-)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Art Journal Challenge Week 18: Domestic Goddess

Hello. Me again.

But you were expecting that, right?

I'm back with [yet] another page from the UKStampers Weekly Art Journal Challenge where the next theme was: 'Domestic Goddess'.

The prompt suggested we could include whether we felt we a Domestic Goddess ... or not, and we could incorporte wings and a figure in there too.

So, what do you reckon? How did I answer this one?

Well, actually it's like this ...
You know how I've been working on these pages all at once and are sharing them all together - rather than regularly working on them, keeping on top of things, chipping away at the task in hand?

And you know how I'm still about 7 weeks behind in the challenge because I get distracted with other crafty business?

Well ... if you know that .. you know how I approach domestic tasks ... delay, put off, neglect, push to the bottom of the To Do list ... and every now and again ... frantically work on it all at once ... trying to catch up.
Then, once I've done that ... I can happily begin neglecting it all over again!

That said ... I'm a tidy person ... mostly [just as long as you don't open that cupboard ... or the door to my craftroom ...] and my house isn't in a heap.

And if you're not the kind of person who runs their finger along shelves checking for dust, or who even remembers that there are such things as skirting boards, nevermind is someone remembers to clean them ... then I reckon you'd feel perfectly at home here. 
  • I cook;
  • And I only burn things when I get engrossed in my crafting or blogging and leave things in the oven 'for just 5 more minutes';
  • I do the laundry as soon as there's enough to make a load and I love to hang it out on the line;
  • And I do the ironing as soon as ... errrm ... as soon as the pile begins to weigh roughly the same as  I do and can be mistaken for a person out of the corner of your eye;
  • I go grocery shopping alone often;
  • And while I can't always be certain I'll be allowed to buy alcohol while I'm there [long story, sore point, read more here if you like rants] I usually manage to purchase items from all the other essential food groups.
So I'm happy to call myself a Lazy Domestic Goddess ... because, like I say even the lazy ones count ... right?
Right then ... I'll probably be back with my next pages tomorrow ... if I get time to photograph and blog them today that is.

Look ... put it this way ... if you catch the scent of burning food later on this evening ... you'll know I found the time ...



p.s It's my turn on the 3DJean Design Team blog today where I've made cards featuring, ironically, the kinds of dresses real Domestic Goddesses wear! ;-) 

Monday, 20 June 2011

Art Journal Challenge Week 17: Celebration

Hi again.

Another UKStampers Weekly Art Journal challenge page today ... one which might come across more negative than I'd intended, but then bit by bit it just kind of evolved that way! Then again, if that's how my subconscious chose to respond to the prompt ... who am I to try to deny it or apologise for my dark side? ;-)

The prompt was 'Celebration' with the letters RSVP and something sparkly on the page, here's where my mind went:
So errrmmm .... yeah, you might guess the words 'life and soul of the party' aren't often used to describe me ...
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, the wording came from an old children's dictionary which I actually have a few of as I find them that useful!

I buy them from charity shops and remember one lady behind the counter apologising that, because it was a large book it would cost 50p rather than 10p like the rest of the kids' books. I didn't want to explain that 50p was a bargain for so much journaling inspiration when I suppose she assumed I was going to teach a child to spell with it!

Once I had the words as my starting point I found an appropriate Art Chix image of masquerading partygoer and added a cloud over her head [it could have been worse, it could have been a black cloud!]:
The background was made by spraying Shimmerz inks thorugh a doily [as a stencil], then I decided to incorporate the doily itself into the page, cutting out some of it's decorative gold discs and glueing them down.
But then I spotted the reverse side and how the blue inks had soaked into the white underside of the gold doily which I rather liked too. So I glued those gold side down to add texture which blended in perfectly with the backround colour.

The remaining doily designs [which are stamped in various shades of blue and gold and black ink]are from the lovely set of 3 'Doily Borders' by Maya Road  which have become my 'go to', 'surely everything needs a doily border', current favourite stamp set! 
Please don't let the less than enthusiastic journaling on the page deter you from inviting me to your next celebration though ...

What I lack in the 'effervescent party personality' department ... I more than make up for in the 'nice frock and shoes' criteria ... surely they'd be worth a few of your best sausage rolls and cup cakes alone ...   ;-)

See you tomorrow ... with yet more journal catching-up [assuming I don't get distracted by the imminent arrival of my new laptop before then!]


Sunday, 19 June 2011

Art Journal Challenge Week 16: Television

Hi, hi.

More UKStamper's weekly art journal challenge catch-up today with my response to Week 16's theme -Television:

The retro TV was cut from a 1960s children's dictionary, coloured in with Shimmerz paint and given a glowing halo by applying yellow ink through a Crafter's Workshop sunburst stencil with Cut 'N Dry foam:
Old dictionaries and reference books are one of my esssential crafting supplies and children's versions are particularly useful because they have pictures too!

The pictures, along with the short definitions inside make it easy to quickly create a clear theme for journal pages, collage, cards, scrapbook pages etc:
The retro TV stamp came from a bargain pack of We R Memory Keepers products from TK Maxx a few months ago and Ireally like the way the inks I used to stamp it in soaked right into my un-gessoed page giving a soft finish.

for the background I used the same technique on this page as the one I described in my post yesterday:- using the surrounding outer-sheet from alphabet stickers as a stencil.
This time I sprayed through it with Dylusions ink and dabbed Artiste silver acrylic paint through some sections too. Grey & yellow is one of my all time favourite colour combinations.

The prompt suggested we pick our Top 5 TV shows ... but I just couldn'tbring myself to pin it down! I jotted down the first favourites which sprung to mind but I knew I wasn't thinking back far enough and I didn't want to leave anything vital out!
Plus, weirdly ... did you see how I seemed to get stuck on programmes beginning with 'C' , with The Choir, Cast Offs, Community and Columbo all sneaking in there as if my mind was going through a life's TV viewing in alphabetical order?!

I'm pretty sure I've enjoyed programmes from the other end of it too though.... like Vexed and The West Wing for example!

However, considering I'm already getting excited about watching Case Histories later on this evening ... maybe there's something to my preference for TV beginning with 'C' afterall!!

Happy watching!


Saturday, 18 June 2011

Art Journal Challenge: Week 15 - Travel

Hi there.

So I kind of got behind on the weekly art journaling challenge I was taking part in over on the UKStampers forum.

Kind of ... 10 weeks behind ... but I'm catching up. As and when.

Here's my take on Week 15's 'Travel' theme:

My first response to the prompt was 'But I don't really travel anywhere' ... so that's what I based my page around!

A part of the challenge was to use an old map and I found the perfect snippet left over from the old map I used to decorate this polystyrene wreath last year:
The circles on background were made by spritzing through one of my favourite stencils which is just the cardstock outer surround of a sheet of circle alphabet stickers which have long since been used up.  

In fact, I use lots of similar surrounds from stickers and chipboard letters or shapes as my stencils. I find it more interesting [and cheaper] than buying 'proper' ones!
Once I spray through a stencil I usually flip it over and get a reverse image on the page too [which is why the circles above are white and the surround is blue - the reverse of the image below]. Isometimes do it just by closing the book while the stencil is still in place.
The other elements include rub-ons, a 7Gypsies sticker, words cut from the packaging of travel-themed stationary - not forgetting stamps - seeing as how it's for a UKStampers challenge! [I have to remind myself to stamp on the pages somewhere!]

Well, I'll leave you for now, but I really will keep trying to catch up ... even though there's a new prompt on it's way tomorrow for Week 25

I'll see you soon ... with another art journal page .. or 10.


Friday, 17 June 2011

Layout: Reason I Love You No.826

Hi there. Happy Friday to one and all.

How's it going? Me?  Well, all in all ... Friday's treating my pretty well:

I've had someone buy 4 of my collages from my etsy shop overnight; I've posted those plus some magazine projects off; I've eaten a vanilla slice [the bakery is next door to the Post Office ... so it was inevitable really] and I bought 3 amazing retro aprons [which I might sell on etsy ... or I might just keep!] on my way back, then found a tiny ever-so-lovely pink poppy growing in a crack in the pavement at the top of our drive.

So, in the spirit of all things fortunate-yet-rather-random ...

I thought I'd share my latest scrapbook page as it feautures a mundane, everyday, domestic moment ... which makes me smile and strikes me as worthy of capturing:

The journaling pretty much speaks for itself:

It really is the little things in life - the vanilla slices, vintage aprons and kind hearted men -
that make the world go around, isn't it?

I hope there's an ordinary treasure making your day today.  [If there isn't - go look in your nearest secondhand shop or in a crack in the pavement ... and I bet you find something to make you smile ... !]

See you soon.


Page made using my guest designer 'Quirky Kit' from Crafty TemplatesIsn't that jeans-patterned paper fabulous? Really, really fabulous?!!!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Scrapbooking the story: The curtain of poetry

Hello, hello.

A few weeks ago we went to see the Jaume Plensa exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

And it was awesome.


In fact, I was a little overawed if I'm honest. By the time I reached the final piece of work I was a little overwhelmed and had to leave the room ... battling back tears ...

I know .. either I reeeeaaaalllly adore sculpture or I'm a complete crazy-lady ... [actually it's a bit of both ... ].

But, with that in mind, when it came to making a scrapbook page featuring some of the photos we took that day ... I thought I'd be safer with a work that didn't make me lose my mind/composure in a public space!

So instead here's a page about Twenty-nine Palms a curtain made of steel letters which form strands of poetry from 29 of Plensa's favourite poets:
One of the most joyous parts of this work is that you're allowed to touch it!

In fact, you're encouraged to touch it and when you do, when you gently run your hands along the letters, they tinkle and chime adding to the magical feel of a curtain of floating poetry.

[There are a few videos of it on Youtube if you really to hear it for yourself - just search for Jaume Plensa].
As a lover of words, poetry, text-based art and sculpture ... who also likes to take photos ... it should go without saying that I took a lot of photos of this particular piece!

And when I wasn't taking photos of it I was trying to read it:
 Unlike the one which nearly made me cry [which I still loved ... just in a different way] Twenty-nine Palms made me smile and drift and get as excited as a six year old at being allowed to touch the art!
I'm quite tempted to try to squeeze in another visit before the Plensa exhibition closes in September, but even if I don't ... I have enough photos to keep me going for a little while at least.

I'd love to know if you've seen any of  Plensa's work - I know he's an international artist - but I'll leave it up to you to declare whether or not it made you cry or feel like a child again!
Julie :-)

The small print:

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Stripemania at home

Hi, hi, hi.

Last week, when I spotted that the Decor8 blog was hosting a virtual 'Stripe Mania' party [kind of a census of bloggers who wear stripes] I knew that me and my stripes had to stand up and be counted!

And here's my contribution: me in my newest stripey t-shirt ...  on my newest stripey carpet:
In case you're wondering, not all of the rooms in my house actually look like my clothing ... no, hang on ... actually, on second thoughts ... when I come to think about it ....

You can read the full story behind 'Stripe Mania' here on Decor8 - there's only the rest of today to join in if you're a stripe-a-holic blogger too.

Happy striping.


Friday, 10 June 2011

Tips for the Design Team-curious. 8: What did I miss? Round-up.

Hello for the last time in the Tips for the Design Team-curious series.
Today I'm going to address some of the questions I've had from readers seeking more information on:
  • What to include in your Design Team application email;
  • How to approach a magazine with your work ... and
  • The challenge of setting up your first blog.
But first, let me just say ...

... while this  may be the end of the 8 specific posts I set aside to focus on the topic, the conversation's not over ... or at least I hope it isn't!

For a start, the conversation was recorded:
  • the posts themselves aren't going anywhere!
  • they'll be listed on their own page for easy access for the foreseeable future;
  • so even if you're not contemplating a DT role, or seeking publication or if you haven't set up your blog yet ... all the advice will still be there, ready and waiting ... when you are.
Plus, the conversation has been continuing in other formats, so a big THANK YOU to:
  • those who blogged about this series;
  • those who tweeted about it, retweeted and shared links;
  • those who emailed and were so open about your creative hopes and fears;
  • those who subscribed to my blog due to this series;
  • those brand new readers who left me some delightful comments ... and ...
  • those of you who already know me who joined in the conversation too. Seeing your familiar names in my comments really made me feel part of something bigger than and beyond my small blog corner.
And lastly ... the conversation will go on ... because you can't shut me up that easily ...
When I was small [yes, yes, I am still small now ... let me start that again ... ] When I was young, if had an idea for an activity or game or project I wanted to try out, I would often pester my family to join in with me.

I'd suggest to them things that 'we' could ... as opposed to just little old 'me'.

Part of me wanted to carry them along and sweep them up in my grand plans, convincing them of how good it would be if they joined in! I thought that if I was so excited about the task, they would be too and that everyone could share what I was feeling.

And things haven't much changed.
While I grew [somewhat] bigger ... I'm still here -  wanting to take people with me -  wanting to demonstrate that the things I can achieve they can achieve too ... basically I've been trying to show you that my game can be your game too!

And I'm not done yet ... so expect to find me tugging at your sleeve suggesting you can do it /here's how to do it and just general personal cheerleading from me in the future!

But let's return to now and to ...

Design Team application emails:
OK then, I suppose the first part is easier to answer than the last, so:
  • Unless the DT specifically states they want pictures in the body of the email [which I don't think I've ever seen] simply send your chosen images as attachments to the email application.
  • Lts of DTs don't even ask for images - only a link to your blog or gallery - which is why it's a good idea to keep them up-to-date when you're seeking a DT role.
As for the second part of the question - and what the recruiters want to hear about you ... well ... that's a lot trickier as every team is seeking something slightly different depending on their style, attitude and readership.

However, here's some great, general advice from my one-time Design Team-Mamma Gauche Alchemy's Amy Wing:
Here - as I covered in detail in Part 3 'Shaping Up for Selection' - is again why it's so important you apply to a team you actually WANT to be on ... rather than being on a team for the sake of it, just so you can put their blinkie on your blog!

This doesn't mean you always have to know an awful lot about the team in advance or admit to life-long undying admiration for everthing they've ever done. Clearly opportunities will arise withing teams you've never even heard of  [Gauche Alchemy were a brand new business when I applied ... but even then I knew I wanted to be part of it].

Here's how to get a feeling for a team and where to pick up ideas of what makes them tick:
  • read their 'about us' / mission statement etc on their website / blog;
  • read their blog posts;
  • read back through their tweets - you don't need to be signed up to Twitter to read things there;
  • look at the blogs of existing or previous DT members;
  • read their product descriptions in their shops and familiarise yourself with their product lines.
Expressing your enthusiasm for their brand/blog should come easy if:
  • you like or even love their product ranges;
  • the products are something you've always wanted to try out;
  • their blog inspires you;
  • you creative outlook feels complimentary to theirs.
Conveying a genuine interest and enthusiasm for a particular brand will be far easier, and less time consuming than trying to fake it while sounding genuine!

However, your application doesn't need to be totally focussed on how good they are, in fact ... you shouldn't go too far in that direction as Amy continues:
Go back to Part 3 'Shaping Up for Selection' for more advice on what to avoid and the kind of confidence you should try to convey.
But here are a few ideas to adapt for the About Yourself section:
  • Inject your own personality in here;
  • making yourself memorable;
  • give them a glimpse of the real person they'll be taking on board - not just a project-making machine. They want this as much as you do!
Describe your creative style -
  • does your style fit theirs or are you offering them something brand new and fresh?
  • tell them why you will be good for them;
  • give examples of how their product suits your style;
  • surprise them with a unique use for a productof theirs;
  • eg. "My work is  best described as clean and simple / grungy / quirky / open / experimental / minimal with a hint of chaos"
  • eg. "Your images would make an amazing effect on my fingernails ..."
Describe your creative environment -
  • do your collections reflect what you'll be making for the team?;
  • is your creativity evident to a stranger from 100 paces on a foggy day?
  • eg. "Busy city girl by day - paper-layering, embellishment-making; vampire-scrapper by night"
  • eg. "If you're ever in the neighbourhood, just head for the house with the ribbon wreath on the door and pom-poms in the trees and you've found me" 
  • "My children have grown up believing it'sperfectly normal for your clothes to perfectly match the latest scrapbooking range".
Describe your experience or specialisms -
  • what are you great at?
  • what do people know you for?
  • can you write tutorials?
  • tell them how your photography compliments your projects?
  • do you blog often?
  • perhaps you've studied something useful to add in here - even classes you may have taguht previously;
  • eg. "a lifetime of experimenting with fabric / UTEE / acrylic paint"
  • eg. "I'm always seeking to find creative stamping techniques" etc
Describe your personal philosophy or suitability -
  •  are you chatty? - useful if they want someone using their message boards / Facebook etc
  • are you interested in others? - useful if they'll expect you to leave comments on their readers' challenge entries;
  • are you organised / used to working to deadlines / someone who likes to plan ahead? - tell them so.
  • highlight places wherever your personality and attitude matches what they are looking for.
Right then .. that's enough for you to be going on with nowI think! Really the main idea is to be yourself - but specifically you - so you become a 'real' person alongside your creative work.

Obviously you begin building your application  around the requirements and criteria which DTs set out for you ... but what about when your application is speculative?

Here's another reader's question ....
How to approach a magazine with an expression of interest
Like a DT application, this too will begin with you doing your research.
  • is it a specific magazine you want to get into - or just publishing in general?
  • if it's a general desire to be in print, look around online and on the shelves of shops for the titles you want to approach;
  • look on their website for something like the heading 'Submission Guidelines';
  • eg. the Somerset titles have theirs set out very clearly - others have nothing;
  • if they don't have any specific submission details online but they have a generic company email - send a general letter to that, asking for the best way to make an approach;
  • similarly you could ask on Twitter - all the major craft titles have Twitter accounts run by someone in their PR department or their creative team who can point you in the right direction;
  • look in the front of their magazine 'in the flesh' for any contact details. 
If you found an editor's email address on their site, then to me that suggests they will expect someone at some point to contact them on it, so I wouldn't be afraid to do so.

The actual content of your email will also vary depending on what it is you're seeking to do. These can be put into two rough categories: general expressions of interest and specific proposals. [And even a mix of the two!]
1. To me, a general expression of interest would go along the lines of:
  • introducing myself;
  • stating I'd like to contribute to their magazine;
  • stating why I'd be appropriate for it ie: style of work, quality of work etc
  • providing links to my blog / Flickr gallery;
  • mentioning previous experience;
  • asking if it's better to approach them with a clear idea - or if I could just be considered for anywork they regularly commission.
2. If I was writing a specific proposal with a particular project in mind I would do the same as above except:
  • include clear details of the project / feature you'd like contribute;
  • include photos if you have any - perhaps of a similar project / technique you'd made before;
  • suggest where this might fit in their publication - pay attention to the existing content, regular features in the magazine.
Finally, don't worry if you don't hear back straight away, they're busy people and plan issues months in advance, there might not be room for you straight away.
And don't get disheartened of they don't take you up on your offer. Try again with a different idea or try another magazine.
Good luck - let me know how things turn out for you!

Finally, after receiving two emails containing almost the exact same question I want to quickly touch on the next point without letting myself get drawn into Tips for the Blogging-curious!!
A few notes on becoming a blogger
... and similarly:
 Firstly, it made me smile to read that people reading my advice admit to overthinking when I must be one of the world's biggest overthinkers ... as perhaps an 8 part feature on one topic might suggest!
That aside ... I'mthe fact that they've both taken time to write to me about it suggests to me that they're just looking for a small kickstart with something they really will attempt in the near future. 

Here's a few starting points for anyone who feels the same:

Before you begin:
  • You can start your blog without publishing it live on the internet straight away.
  • You can work on its design and content in draft / private mode until you feel comfortable releasing it into the world.
  • Most people I know began like this - it takes the pressure off you until you're ready.
Your content:
Don't think of your blog as a big empty space to fill - think of your life as a busy, eventful, creative, colourful event which easily has enough going on to spill over and get mopped up into blog posts! [Even if you don't think so yet!]
  • Personally I think 'blabbing' about what makes you happy is pretty much the perfect starting point!
  • If it makes you happy you're more likely to stick with it over time.
I used to blog only my craft projects as I really began to blog to get more DT chances! I would keep all my other little pieces of writing in my notebooks until eventually I decided that even if the bloggers I admired didn't blog things they'd overheard, or stories about their daily lives or what they'd found in junk shops ... it didn't mean I shouldn't. So I do. And I'm much happier!
  • I assure you that once you begin you soon forget about worrying about having something new to blog because you'll suddenly begin to see EVERYTHING as a blogging opportunity.
  • "Ooh I could blog about that" becomes a frequent phrase as it's all just what goes on in my daily life - elevated by being online for others to read.
  • Try setting yourself some categories [like the My Month in Numbers feature I blog, or any of the many many 'memes', lists, photo posts etc that groups of bloggers join in with eg. Julia Dunnit's What's on Your Work Desk Wednesdays [where you post a photo of what's on your workdesk ... on Wednesdays ... but you guessed that ... right?]
So categories are a great way to structure your blogging time and let your readers know the kind of things to expect from you. Don't give yourself too many strict days and rules though ... you'll be setting yourself up to fail. Do it as and when you feel like it! 
Spreading out the content:
Along with your categories helping with this, try:
  • keeping your posts focussed on one project / item at a time;
  • I see some people blogging lots of scrapbook pages/cards etc in a single post and not only do they not get the attention they deserve - they eat up content which could be spread out over a week.
  • more frequent posting will help you build a steady stream of readers ... who can also be future friends and industry connections.
As for wondering wondering whether anyone will read it ... well ....  you need to know in advance that it takes time and effort to gain and keep a readership.
If you enjoy what you're blogging about, then don't lose heart, keep having fun and gradually your network will grow.
Gaining readers:
Some great advice I once heardat work regarding marketing was that there's no point in creating amazing advertising posters ... if you only put them up in an empty basement! 
If no one can see it how will they know what you're selling? Same goes for blogging:
  • Are you on any crafting forums? Where allowed add a link to your signature in your profile etc;
  • Same goes for being on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and any other social / community media out there;
  • If you're not on any other sites - don't panic, you can get yourself spotted by leaving comments on other people's blogs
  • People will see your name and often hop over to check out who left the comment;
  • Similarly,  joining in with challenge blogs gets people clicking through to your blog.
And know the following things now - in advance - so you don't go crazy thinking you're alone:
  •  ... sometimes you will hate blogging;
  • you will feel inferior to everyone who ever blogged. Ever.
  • you will compare yourself to people you actually really like ... and then resent their popularity;
  • you will think about giving it up and then ...
... one day:
  • you'll get a comment from someone and you'll smile ....or laugh out loud, or get goosebumps down your neck;
  • someone will compliment your work, someone will say 'well done'; someone will say 'thank you'.
  • And it'll be all you need to keep going ...  for at least one more post ... then another ...
If you need further tips on the technical sid eof blogging, there are endless classes out there you could take and lots of free resources if you just Google for 'blogging tips / how to / tutorials' etc

And, if you do start a blog after reading this - let me know and I'll post a link to your new online home in a post over here sometime. Then your first post will definitely have at least one reader in me ... and then anyone else who stops by here might just check you out too!

Ok, that really is all for now! I'm all blogged out ... for today at least.
If you're currently testing out any of the tips from the series - or if you do so at any time in the future -  keep in touch . You can be the Tips for the Design Team-curious in-house design team trying out my 'product' for me!
Thank you again for reading the series, I hope you found something there which felt it was meant just  for you. Take it ... take it ... it's yours!

See you very soon.