Sunday 31 January 2010

Adios January.

My January ... in numbers:

-7 C = the lowest temperature we spotted on our garden thermometer during the worst of the snow [although it was colder than that through the night]. Yet when life gives you lemons ...

...make lemonade ...

1 = the number of good uses we found for the snow:

90 = the number of miles travelled by the vintage cabinet James rescued last year:
... which has now settled itself into
Hannah's first home. [I can't wait to see how you've brought it back to it's former glory, in spite of the woodworm! Hopefully we'll see both you + it v.soon xx]

2 = the number of Helen's I know who gave birth to baby girls. Both of whom gave their daughters names beginning with 'I'. Welcome Iris and Isabelle!

2 was also the number of birthday candles I blew out. Although, some of the cakes ...
... were more edible than others: 4 = the number of events I've already got planned for spring: two live shows; a crafting retreat and a papercraft show. So excited! Comedy + paper. What else does one need?

3 = the number of people I love in this Christening photo [although only one of them could look that cute in a sailor suit!]:

14 = the number of birds my sister and I counted today in our parents' garden as part of the RSPB's 'Big Garden Birdwatch'! How wholesome an activity was that? So wholesome in fact, that we even managed to prevent Dad from doctoring our survey results to make it appear he had more than 14 birds ... it's really not meant to be a competition!! And not once did we fall for his claims that, while we weren't looking, a golden eagle had landed on the lawn!

1 = the number of birds I drew for my new blog-header. [Which I'm soooo happy with!] I'd planned to draw 3 of them, but I think I've been bitten by the 'less-is-more' bug [I blame it on my recent infatuation with the wonderfully sparse Wallander].

So, 'Adios' January, it's been good knowing you, even with your dark snowy days and your post-Christmas tidying up!

And 'Hola' February. Here's to you and your longer, lighter days; the unfolding of new adventures and the sound of blackbirds in the garden again.


Wednesday 27 January 2010

A few things

As I'm a part of 4 design teams, there's always some new, new, news to be spread throughout the month. So here's the latest headlines:

Gauche Alchemy allow me to tell their customers what to do: new tutorial available ......

Gauche Alchemy 'Shrine in a Box' kit project peek

I've created a step-by-step photo-tutorial showing Gauche Alchemy customers how I used the Shrine In A Box kit. The kit comes complete with everything you need to create the project above. There's a blank chipboard box; a variety of new and vintage papers; lots of eclectic embellishments ....and now my full project tutorial will be delivered with every purchase.

Pandering to pattern-passions : Crafty Templates launches a new digi-paper range ......If you want to get your hands on your own 'Snuggle Cushion' [and why wouldn't you want to? It's a spotty, stripey, flowery, vintagey treat] then see here for the full details of the new range.

Froggie went-a-courting: Banana Frog seeks 4 new design team members ....

Why don't you head off to the BF blog, read this post, and get your application in before Feb 14th? Really, why don't you? Acrylic stamps are for life - not just for DT projects! It's surely worth thinking about.

And finally ..... If the chance to secure a place on a design team doesn't grab you, then maybe this will ....

I've just received an email with the subject line: American Apparel is on the hunt for The Best Bottom in the World! And,according to the rules on their website, all you have to do is "Post a photo of your booty's best side for judgment". That's all.

What are you waiting for?

They're all my 'type'.

I like words. But you knew that already didn't you? Was it the name of my blog that gave it away?

The thing is, not only do I like to write and read words, I like to use them in my artwork too. I don't know if you remember the 'Flawed Work of Art' project I made for a Copy+Paste challenge last summer, but it too demonstrated my attachment of all things typographical:

5. Flawed Work of Art

As I mentioned in the challenge post, although I'd made the frame from scratch and given it several coats of paint etc didn't feel complete untilI'd added the wording.

The same thing goes for almost everything I make; layouts; cards; canvasses; altered items ...I'm always battling with how / where/ if I can add in a word or two.

Which is one of the reasons I was excited about the new Studio Calico release 'Anthology':

I like the fact that they consider typography as one of the 'basics'. [There's a more detailed look at that specific design here]. And, with this in mind, I've added a few text themed patterns to my '365: Chasing Patterns' Flickr set, including this:

22/365 - Text; bag; H&M

The 7gypsies paper I've added to the set is actually a close-up of this layout:

I love this layout [that's not big-headed to say that is it?]. It's just that I'd debated with myself as to whether to mix the full-on pattern and colour of the backing paper with all the areas of pale pink paint - but I'm glad I did. The end result is kind of wordy and messy and jumbled and almost romantic .... and so am I. ;)

Despite the text-heavy background, I added on even more wording through my journaling blocks and that fabulous
'It's late my love' quote stamp from 3DJean. I smile when I read the wording on it even now.

I'll leave the font-lovers amongst you with a few places innwhich I can indulge in typographical appreciation:

The Creative Type: a font-filled challenge blog - where I Guest Designed this project last year:

My JF Ringmaster 'J'

We Love Typography: they love typography.

DaFont: free fonts to download. Free! Fonts!

There's so much more I could write about using type in my work ...but I'll leave that for another day; another canvas; another thesis.

J :)

Tuesday 19 January 2010

This blog post is brought to you by ...

.... plaid.

Plaid, tartan, chequered, checks, gingham ....whatever you call it, it's my pattern of the week in my '365 Patterns' project.

The reason I chose plaid this week is due to this outfit which I wore to a Christening on Sunday.

The star of the show wore an adorable bespoke navy and white sailor suit, meanwhile I pulled this mustard and grey combo together to co-ordinate with the skirt.

I've added 7 plaid-themed patterns, including that of the skirt, to my '365: Chasing Patterns' Flickr set. Don't forget you can add any patterns of your own to the group I created too.

[I left the top of the photo un-cropped so you can see a glimpse of a pattern that will definitely be making its way into my project sometime this year!].

I've been having a browse around for some sneak peaks for the new paper ranges which will be released after the CHA exhibition this month. A collection from Studio Calico is the one I'm most interested in so far ...let me knnow if you've found anything particularly wonderfully patterned won't you?


Friday 15 January 2010

3 in 1 Mini-album: a tutorial

How do you feel about year-long crafting projects?

Do they make you think of a fun, consistent, structured projects which you can develop over time? Or do you fear the commitment and the possibility that they'll end up on the UFO [un-finished-object] pile?

Last year I worked on two 12-month-long projects in the shape of Emily Falconbridge's '52Q A Year of Mini-Art-Journaling' [my 52 finished tags are here] and my self-imposed 'My Year in Outfits' album. From this I've realised that the key to completing both projects was the organization I did ahead of time - an aspect of crafting which I've included in the mini-album project tutorial I've got for you today.

I prepared the papers, journaling blocks and embellishments for the 'My Year in Outfits' album 12 months ago, before I ever began taking the weekly photos of my clothes. What I didn't stick down immediately, I kept in a plastic wallet which I stored in a decorative bag alongside the album itself [see this blog post]. Over the course of the year and the life of the album, the majority of the book was decorated with the items I'd placed in that bag at the start. In narrowing down my choices and having everything together in one place meant that I could scoop the entire project up in one hand at any given time and add to it ...pushing it nearer to completion without any additional effort.

Which leads me on to sharing this year's year-long project with you:

I've also written a tutorial to share with you the ideas and techniques behind this '3 in 1 mini album' . In it I've explored and developed the idea of using a pre-prepared album to help ensure I complete another year-long project and I'll take through it step-by-step.

To read the tutorial, just click here. You can then either read it online, or download it and save it to your computer for future reference.

[The supplies I used to create my journal came from a Crafty Templates Quirky kit ].

If you are taking part in Shimelle's 'Document 2010' [hosted both on her blog and on UKScrappers] then this album would be a great accompaniment to keep you on track throughout the year-long project. The pocket-pages I demonstrate would make the perfect storage place for all of the bits and pieces Shimelle suggests you hang on to, while providing you with lots of space to note down all the things you don't want to forget about each month.

In the tutorial I've included a full page of suggestions on how you can adapt the idea to suit any event or occasion or idea which you'd like to organise and document. If you'd like to share any further possibilities, any immediate thoughts on how you'd use a journal like this or how you might adapt the techniques then I'd be interested to hear your take on it.

Right then, I don't think I've had a cup of tea for almost 6 hours and that, quite simply, will not do. So i'll go and put the kettle on and leave you to download the tutorial and get your planning heads on!


Julie :)

Tuesday 12 January 2010

It begins with a dress + ends in a bucket.

When I began my pattern-collecting project, the first pattern I uploaded to my '365: Chasing Patterns' Flickr set was that of the All Saints dress which James bought me for my birthday. A dress which I wasn't allowed to wear until the day itself, which waas Sunday. While the weather may not have initially seemed to lend itself to wearing a fine cotton, floaty frock, the addition of a long sleeve T-shirt, a cardigan, some thick tights, legwarmers and chunky boots kept the hypothermia away. And while I may be officially another year older, I hope I'm never too old to feel the need to do this:I was so pleased with the response I've had to my pattern chasing idea I decided to set up a Chasing Patterns Flickr group so anyone with a Flickr membership can join in and share their patterns ... which includes you. You absolutely do not have to join in with my mad 365 target - you're simply welcome to add any photos of interesting patterns at any time.

I've uploaded 7 more patterns this week - several of which are directly connected to my birthday. I didn't originally plan to have seasonal patterns or themes in my uploads, but as I need to reach the 365 goal, it seems sensible to photograph and collect patterns as and when they occur.

In other news:

Right then, I'm off to get warm and to eat something and I'll leave you with the line in question [which I liked so much I actually scrapped it!]:

"I was on the front porch drowning a mouse in a bucket
when this van pulled up, which was strange."

Saturday 9 January 2010

More Frost

Hello you.

As if my
freezer-themed post of yesterday wasn't enough here's some photos taken this morning along with one of my favourite poems: Robert Frost's
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Friday 8 January 2010

Just call me Pandora.

'Don't Open the Freezer!'
Just a quick hello and another page using a photo from the crafty weekend I went on last year [saying last year still seems a bit weird!].

I've written a full description of just what on earth was going on in those photos in a blog post for Gauche Alchemy here.


Sunday 3 January 2010

One word; 365 possibilities ... at least

Have you joined in with the 'word of the year' idea at all? On and off throughout 08 and 09 I've meddled around with the ideas of 'Yes' and 'Yellow' as focal words, but I've not definitively declared one as my 'Word of the Year' ...until now.

My word of 2010 is: pattern. Allow me to elaborate ...

I like patterns. You might have gathered that by now. If not, my blog header ^^^^ up there is a good indication. I'm a colour-lover too and what better way to wear / scrap / decorate with several colours at once than to combine them all together in a floral / graphic / stripey / checked / retro pattern or two. I'm really quite addicted and I've got plans to reveal the extent of that addiction to you.

My grand scheme is to share 365 patterns with you this year by photographing the patterns I find in my little world. This will be mainly patterns on my clothes [my side of the wardrobe has been described as 'an explosion in a pattern factory' before now. It will also include photos of the patterns on the clothes of anyone who catches my eye and who I can get near enough to, patterns in my home and patterns in my scrapping products, patterns in .... you get the idea. The next step will be my uploading them to my Flickr gallery for your viewing pleasure and my mad desire to see them all in one place ... I suspect that the 'set' I am homing them in will at some pooint in the coming year, find itself arranged in colour order. Just a feeling I'm getting ....

Unlike some of the other '365' photo projects out there, I'm not going to be photographing one pattern per day, but I do aim to upload photos roughly once a week / fortnight with the aim of having 365 photos in my '365: Chasing Patterns 2010' set by the end of the year.

Before I began photographing them this week, it did cross my mind that I might not actually have that many different desgins to make the project last for a whole year ... poor deluded wretch that I am. It's now looking more likely that I'll have extend into 2011!

'Pattern' means some other, important, things to me this year too. Like creating a new pattern in my work/creative life, like repeating actions until I'm comfortable with the new tasks I want to take-on, like recognising themes amongst the many ideas for new ventures I have and then creating new habits of self-discipline to help me achieve in them.

But for now, let's get back to the pretties ... the first 7 patterns are in my gallery now and while I do have some especially colourful treats for you in the coming months - I've chosen some monotone designs to ease you in gently!

If you want to play along with me and this pattern-sharing idea in any way, shape or form I'd love to hear from you. At any point in the year I'd love to recieve links to any patterns you've photographed, scrapped, designed etc. If there's enough interest I could always create a Flickr group to house our combined hoard of decorative delights.

Go. Look at patterns. Seek out your own. [I won't be held responsible for any pseudo-hallucinatory effects they may have on you though].

J :)