Monday 23 March 2009

Crafty multi-tasking

As I mentioned a few posts ago - I intended to scrap my '25 Things About Me' list.

It was on my 'To Do' list along with 'make something using my new Quirky kit'.

So I did.

Which is satisfying as I can now cross 2 things off my list ... and there's nothing quite as satisfying as that! But I may just be pushed over-board in the excitement stakes here as I also intended to write something for the Crafty Templates blog - a task which was also on the 'To Do'.

And here ladies and gentleman is a Crafty Templates blog entry about how I scrapped my '25 Things' list using the new Quirky kit 'Note to Self'. It's the scrapping equivalent of killing 3 birds with one well aimed stone.

[Ooo I apologise if that's left you with a horrid image! Quick ... think of something lovely and happy and wonderful ...mmmmm .... paper, ribbons, notebooks, new pens ..... better now?].

Saturday 21 March 2009

Colour collecting.

Decorating our first house from top to bottom, inside and out, was a mammoth task which began 5 years ago and is now, thankfully, complete [ish]. A task which had an unending knack for revealing nasty surprises such as: the need to completely re-wire the electrics, a whole central heating system connected to a single 3-pin plug and a half-landing being held up by a few nails and positive thinking alone!

We lived and - quite literally - breathed the scraping, filling, sanding and painting process. I would long for a weekend, somewhere in the mists of a golden future, where I could wear something other than my paint, filler and caulk smeared jeans and hoodie. James and I would be working away at some laborious necessity and together ponder the mystery which was: how would we fill our days once we no longer had to decorate or dig our free time away?

We know the answer to that now. It goes along the lines of: we sleep, we eat properly, dress nicely, have a life and visit shops which sell things other than undercoat, fire surrounds and gravel. Hell, there's some weekends when we simply mooch, potter and amble, with nary an iota of nostalgia for those DIY-days.

Don't get me wrong though, there were some things I did enjoy about the process. Particularly those which related to the choosing and shopping side of things rather than the oh-joy-I'm-up-to-my-scalp-in-dust....again moments. And one of the best things about the whole interior decoration side has got to be having a genuine excuse to go around collecting these:

Colour swatches.

I adore colour swatches. In my world colour swatches are for life ...not just for redecorating purposes. They are perfect items. They fulfil my craving to look at and arrange colours. It's something that I've always done, ever since being tiny, when to sit and arrange my Crayola Carousel and 100 Felt tip pens into a gradual, accurate rainbow of tonal wonder was an activity in itself. And, as this activity did not necessarily lead to me using them for anything ... similarly, sneaking the odd colour swatch into my pocket doesn't necessarily result in me buying any paint.

I did however, buy this [from Paperchase]: I had to. But, again like the paint swatches, just because I bought a notebook it didn't strictly mean I was going to write in it ... not straight away anyway. It must be close to 6 years since I bought it and for all that time it has been admired, displayed and loved ... but never used ... until now. My current notebook [which travels to work with me every day] is rapidly filling up so I've decided to initiate this one into holding all my ideas for papercrafting projects. And what better way to separate individual categories of project than creating subject dividers from ... well, the choice was obvious wasn't it? Some of the swatches I've used as dividers were ones I found tucked inside this book:

If any of my colour-based brain-leakings have struck a chord with you then, seriously, you should treat yourself to this book, it's a wonderful collection of colour discussions, schemes and swatches. During the entire re-decorating process Choosing Colours by Kevin McCloud [who I won't hear a word against!] was the equivalent of baby bible to a first time mother. I referred to it for reassurance and advice at least once a day! [Sir] Kevin was like a midwife helping me deliver beautifully harmonic and interesting colour schemes! Aahhhhh this kind of talk will make me broody for a fresh new house if I'm not careful.

So yes, I found some swatches tucked into the front of it, ones which I'd brought home when we we're looking for a bright coral shade for one of the walls in our bathroom in 2006. Well, I say 'we' were looking for a bright coral shade yet what I really mean is 'I' looked, and discussed, and debated the various depths of pigment and tonal qualities while James just looked blank and nodded at what he thought were appropriate moments.

It's not that he didn't care it's just that .... he's colour blind.

I know.

Ironic eh?

Sunday 15 March 2009

I'm Making a List.

1. Have you been caught up in any of the recent list-making mania?
2. Especially the kind that have been doing the rounds online – particularly on Facebook?
3. I have.
4. But then, I do like a nice list.
5. Have you thought about how you could use your responses to these questions as prompts in your crafting?
6. I have.

Without wishing to sound like a schoolgirl passing on a message, my friend Brass said that her frined sent her the 'One Word' set of questions as she [the friend of Brass] thought that she [Brass] would be able to produce something scrappy from it and she [Brass] sent it onto me [Julie] as she thought that I'd like to do the same. If you haven't seen or heard of what I'm talking about it's a list of questions to which you are only meant to respond with one word. And that's not always as easy as it sounds and the end result feels like something you might have revealed more than that one single word!!

Here are a few examples from my own list:
Q: Your hair? A: Longer
Q: Your favourite season? A: Warm
Q: Something that you are not? A: Cruel
Q: What are you wearing? A: Comfies!
Q: Friends? A: Amazingly

Make of those what you will Mr. Freud.

The other list I completed recently was on Facebook and was the '25 Things You never knew about me' one which has no set questions but is left entirely up to you to think up and share 25 facts about yourself. As a reader of my streams of consciousness blog posts, you may have already surmised that I like to generally use more than one word when I can so I enjoyed thinking up things which I could elaborate upon for this list. I'm sure a psychoanalyst would have a high-old-time scrutinising what you choose to share ...and what you omit from such a list ... so if you're a psychoanalyst, look away now please.

Here's a couple of mine:
5. I love clothes. I chose my outfits and dressed myself from being tiny. [According to my Mam – I’d refuse to wear ‘day of the week’ underwear if it had the wrong day on it!!].
6. I rarely wash my favourite pair of jeans and my back pockets are full of little bits I’ve picked up along the way.

I'm going to scrap my 25 things whether it be one at a time or whether I group them into catagories [a love of putting things in nice, ordered categories goes hand in hand with my love of a good list!]. And this is the perfect moment to begin as the latest Quirky Kit from
Crafty Templates has just gone on sale entitled 'Note to Self' and fits in splendidly with my current list focus!

This time Leo has put together an eclectic mix of journaling sheets / cards, some brand new Sassafras papers, crochet trimmings and custom items:
I have a soft spot for the acrylic button with newspaper print trapped inside it - it's like scrapping amber!!:
I think this kit might sell out pretty quick [it's so beautiful] and I thought I'd better share it with you before it does ... while I get on with scrapping my 25 things list.

Scrapping a list makes perfect sense to me. You've got a list of pre-determined topics - complete with a clear idea of what you need a photo of.

I know people say 'I'd love to see your projects related to this / that / the other' a lot, but I REALLY would love to know if you have scrapped a list / some statistics / a collection or something similar. It'd also be nice to know if you too have completed the 25 Things list and if you have or intend to scrap items from it, or generally build upon them in any form of art work or journal.

Honestly ... I really would like to see your projects, hear your plans and share your list-loves .... I swear ... I rarely bite ... please don't be shy.


Wednesday 11 March 2009

Go on then...Scrap Like You Mean It

Perhaps it's because I've spent the whole of this week in bed with a cold [awwww] but this last fortnight seems to have flown by. It's now been two weeks since I put my hard-sell hat on and instructed you all to go and buy the Quirky 'Fabric Sundae' Kit from Crafty Templates. The kit was specially produced to help prepare you to play along with today's Scrap Like You Mean It challenge run by Shimelle and hosted on UKScrappers.

I'm now wondering where else I should focus my powers of persuasion [as they're obviously more powerful than I knew] because they all sold out! In fact Leo had to put together some more plus some extras here to meet demand! Well done my fellow Quirkyites for nabbing yourself a delicious fabricy bargain but that doesn't mean you're off the hook yet you know? No, because now you've got a week to play along with the challenge and make something with the kit [No - you can't just keep it for 'best' or sit and fondly glancing at it and stroking it until you've worn a hole in it!]. Nor can those of you who didn't buy a kit relax either ... you can use any fabric at all, [within the bounds of law, common sense, cleanliness and reason] on your pages.

For a complete photo of my page and more ideas on working with fabric I've written a full description [available as a downloadable file] of how I put the kit to use on the Crafty Templates blog here. And Leo has spolied you all by providing lots of inspiration and free templates also available to download.

Do make sure that, like I did here, you upload your finished page to the SLYMI gallery on UKS where one lucky person will win a pizza box full of Quirky Kit goodness! And, apparently, they're trusting me to select a winner!!

You see? I wouldn't bully you for no good reason would I? A little bit of nudging from me could lead to a box of magnificence being posted to you.

Consider it the scrapping equivalent of tough love. Now shooo - go get scrapping.


Monday 9 March 2009

Layout: Nice Pair!


Here's my latest layout, completed on my knee whilst we watched TV on Saturday night, which I've tastefully entitled: 'A Great Pair':

The most striking features of the layout [yes, those], and the girl they're attached to, came from a page of vintage Playboy magazine which was included in my Acme Kit from Gauche Alchemy. I was quite taken with how, like me, she obviously feels she's never fully dressed without some decent footwear ... and tassles ... of course!

I've been thinking about how some of you really seemed interested in the breakdown of how I put together my 'Think Like a Queen' layout, in this post, so I thought that this page might be an approprate place to give it another go.

So here, in all it's glory, is the 'anatomy' of 'A Great Pair':
  • The starting point was most certainly the image of the Burlesque performer with a penchant for fancy cowboy boots - but then I had to choose a theme in which she could represent something related to me.
  • As I'm not a blonde, don't wear tassles or a holster as a general rule and am hardly ever warm enough to go out so lightly attired .... all I could really relate to were the boot. I have boots. I love boots. Especially my £49.99 bargain Ugg 'Aussie Cowboy' boots.
  • I somehow got it into my head that I wanted to use lemon to brighten the grey [perhaps I'm unwittingly channelling colour schemes of the 1980s].
  • On the hunt for 'lemon' I found the two woodgrain effect buttons which came from a shop in York called Duttons for Buttons and they sort of have a story of their own...

Quite obviously Duttons for Buttons sells ... buttons, and whenever we're in York James tells me to go in for a look around. I always refuse to go in because I get overwhelmed by the sheer, floor to ceiling, amount ... Duttons sure do have a LOT of buttons! It always reminds me of the time we took our then very young, Star Wars-loving, nephew to a shop selling sci-fi collectables. James told him he could choose something for his birthday ... and the poor little thing promptly burst into tears from the terrible prospect of having to choose!!! So, in order to avoid becoming lachrymose in public, I steer clear of Duttons and it's millions of evilly wonderful embellishments.

Then last December, on the first day of his Christmas holidays, James announced he had to go somewhere and tried to convince me it was work-related. I knew it wasn't - and he knew I knew it wasn't - but we settled on a don't ask / don't tell / don't spoil the surprise kind of non-verbal agreement. Skip to Christmas day when he watched [with barely concealed self-satisfaction] as I opened a tin full of buttons from Duttons which he'd made a 100 mile round trip for and personally selected based on the styles and colours I like to use in my crafting!!

But I digress...

  • With the colour of the buttons in mind I chose the backing paper [Papermania] and the pastel striped accent paper [barely visible, from Melissa Frances].
  • I had some grey felt which I thought could mimic the charcoal suede of the boots and freehand cut a rik rak style trim from it.
  • Looking through my stash for shoe-related items to add to the theme I found: an advert from a page of 1950s magazine [bottom right], some vintage laced-up boots rub-ons [centre] which I've had since I begun seriously papercrafting several years ago and ... [left, tucked beneath main photo] a photocopy of an article on forensic footprint identification which I'd found on the worktop in the library toilets at work about 2 years ago ... [that one's a touch weird ... even I can see that!].
  • The bottle cap is also from my Gauche Alchemy kit with a printed transparency embellishment sent to me by Anna last week, glued inside it.
  • Anna also sent the lemon hairgrip [top] which is holding a piece of lace sent to me in a Secret Santa swap [remind me to write something about how great swapping stash with friends is one day].
  • The striped 7Gypsies Gaffer Tape was chosen for it's colour matching properties and it's sense of slightly imperfect / rugged-ish-ness.
  • Finally I used lots of ornate Prima rub-ons to echo the decorative stiching down the front and back of my beloved boots and used Adornits and Making Memories tiny alphas to spell out my [slightly cheeky] journaling.

And there you have it, my layout construction process laid bare ...

Sunday 8 March 2009

These are a few of ... favourite things. Or, to be more specific, a few of my favourite Banana Frog things which is the topic of this month's challenge on the Banana Frog blog.

Well, I say 'challenge' but it's really more of an unmitigated treat for your good selves and an impressive act of altruism from Bev. She will send out a set of stamps to 10 people who leave a comment saying which of Banana Frog's stamps are their favourites. You don't have to own them. You don't have to own any Banana Frog stamps at all! You just need to have an opinion on which is the bestest most splendidly wonderful set of Banana Frog stamp...ever!

To help you in your deliberations you can find images of all the sets by clicking on one of the categories [either Alphabets and Words or Patterns] here.

I've had a bit of a think too and have decided that of the Banana Frog stamps I own, the following are 2 of my favourites.

It's all about ...Arrows [one of the most recent releases]:
And ... Fireworks [which satisfies my desire for anything vaguely 1950s in influence]:

Below are my favourite Banana Frog stamps that I don't [as yet] own. Which, mentioning no names Bev, anyone is more than welcome to send to me!!! ;)

It's all about ...Documenting [another recent release which is filled with journaling possibilities]:

And finally there's Calendar [I just love the distressed officey-feel to that font]:

I love pointing out bargains and freebies to you all and I think that I might be turning into something of a talisman or lucky troll in these matters. For example - when I told you all that Leo [from Craftytemplates] had a blog giveaway, someone who read my post, popped over to Leo's blog, left a comment ... was picked out at random, and won the prize! Then last month Leo herself won the Banana Frog challenge!

So, consider me your lucky charm. Yet there's really no need for you to sit me on your monitor, play with my hair or rub my tummy - or whatever is you're meant to do with those trolls! Simply leave a comment for Bev at the bottom of her post on the Banana Frog blog and check back on March 28th to see if fortune has favoured you.

Off you pop then ... go and show a bit of guilt-free favouritism. :)

Thursday 5 March 2009

A short moan and then some happier things.

I've had a few niggling things on my mind for the last few weeks. Nothing too major but just the sorts of things which, when you wake up half an hour before the alarm, raise their little heads, dance around in your brain and prevent you from going back to sleep.

And that's what I was thinking about this morning as I sat down at the computer to check emails etc but then for some reason I remembered this:

It was sent to me by Rachel [whose Daydreams blog is here]. She'd left me comment on my previous post complete with the message: "I've been loitering on your blog for a while now, & I would like to pass on an award I was given to you." How nice is that? And to come from someone you don't already know means a lot. Remembering that someone would take the time to send a stranger something like that has really begun to cheer me up.

As has this seed-packet book from Anna which feels so sunny and retro [particularly the Candytuft!] and it has such a pretty cover photo that at least part of my brain is reminiscing about warm summers and how we used to grow lots of things from seed while I was growing up.

Ahhhhhh ....that's better.