Monday 27 October 2014

An 'altered' book and scrappy collage adventure: sneak peek

Hello hello.
So ... I keep talking about the altered book I started back in September don't I? And I keep telling you I'm going to share it here soon. And over on my Facebook page I've even mentioned that rather than being a simple 'here's my finished work' approach, my draft posts on the subject have now actually morphed into something of a mini workshop!!
A free workshop that is. Here, on my blog, where you can follow along in 'real time' or simply pin / make a note to dip back into at any time in the future.
A workshop filled with practical tips to construct an altered book alongside wider collage inspiration plus encouragement for anyone who might like to try something similar.
The main trouble I'm having in preparing the posts is [a] finding a good stretch of time to take all the photos necessary - there's lots!! and [b] finding a good stretch of time to take the necessary photos in photo-friendly daylight!!  I really do want to get some good shots of the finished pages or else there's not much point me sharing them.
And so ... as I keep promising all this without providing evidence that I have actually made this project; I felt it was about time I shared with you some creative proof-of-life! So here's one of my favourite pages from the whole project ... to give you a flavour of the style of work I'll be demonstrating in the workshop::
 So ... if relaxed, slightly abstract, scrappy paper collage is something you'd enjoy experimenting with ... then it'll be a treat to have you on board!
I'm thinking of calling the series 'Fortune & Geese Favour the Bold' for reasons which may[ or may not] become clearer as I share my pages. Either way ... I like the title and, if you're  feeling a little uncertain about trying a new style or technique I think it's good to be reminded that your efforts will be favoured by fortune ... and geese ...
Anyway ... here's all you need to know about:
'Fortune & Geese Favour the Bold: An 'altered' book and collage adventure with Julie Kirk: 
  • It's a free workshop via a series of blog posts here on my blog;
  • There be lots of photos  ... just as soon as I get a good photo-taking day! I'll use the images to explain and explore the approach I took to collage in this project as well as the construction of the book they're housed in;
  • You're welcome to create along with the posts, or simply save up the ideas for a later date;
  • You won't need any particularly specialist materials. The majority of the project consists of  paper and glue. Everything else is optional.
  • I'll be issuing a full supplies list and class preparation notes here before the start of the series;
  • There'll be a new range of small collage scrap packs available through my Etsy shop during [and after] the workshop for anyone wanting a fresh boost to their own supplies.
  • Oh and, the workshop will be free ... or have I already mentioned that?
So, if you can picture yourself curled up on an Autumn night [or any night for that matter!] with a bag of paper scraps on your lap, a book to stick them in and an attitude of 'let's just see where this papery adventure leads me' ... then this is for you.
May the geese favour you my crafty friend!
Julie x
p.s: I'm avoiding saying exactly when the series will start as I'm a bit deadlined-up all this week ... so don't want to make any promises I can't keep! But expect the prep-notes to land in the next week. Probably.  

Friday 24 October 2014

Halloween craft kit ideas

Hello. Or perhaps that should have been "BOO!".

OK, maybe not ...

... but with a week to go until Halloween I thought I'd share some of the spookier themed crafty kits  available in the shop.

If you're a scrapbooker then these would be ideal to grab now to use once you've printed out your photos of this year's costumes. They'd also make nice additions to any party decorations too.

First up is my personal favourite [I do like a nice skull every now and again ...] it's an Interesting Bits kit called 'Skulls & Sparkles' - . It features papers, ribbons, stickers and general 'bits' on a skeletal theme .. with a hint of glitter ...
But if the dark side isn't quite your thing then how about 'Bright Halloween' [above] instead?

These are the new, smaller sized and lower priced Interesting Bits which, at £5, have proved popular! There's currently just 1 of the bright and 2 of the skull kits remaining [all the other themes sold out].

And if it's something a bit more vintage or mini-bookish you're after then there's one Halloween themed Plundered Pages pack left in the sale [£6] [below right] and one Harry Potter-esque pack too [left]:
There's also the Pack-of-Pockets in green or purple which would make great boosters to Junk Journals and mini-books featuring your Halloween photos and stories. And if it's just the traditional colours of Halloween [black, orange, purple, green] you'd like to craft with then there are actually quite a few other kits in stock which would fit the bill ...

 ... just drop into the shop and I'll have your order posted out to you with scary efficiency [OK, look, I'll do the best I can ... it might not actually scare you ... depends how jumpy you are really ... I was just aiming for a silly Halloween-based phrase ... this has taken all the fun out of it now ... ].


Did I get you that time?

Julie ;-)

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Be inspired: Go 'Random'

Hi, hi.

I've been a bit quiet over here in BlogWorld [if it's any consolation to you ... I'm pretty quiet in 'real' life too ... so there's really no need for you to take it personally ...] but that's not to say that I haven't been doing anything blogable; in fact...
  • I've been working on projects for my regular features at Papercraft Inspirations magazine and, like a reindeer in need of the toilet, I've sped through my Christmas-themed work and am now feeling relieved and Spring-like.
  • And I'm also back on the University campus twice a week in my support role [for students with disabilities]. So far the term has involved lots of timetable changes ... and a lecturer handing out conkers as a reward. To Masters level students ... never a dull moment in the School of Maths & Computing [no ... wait ... that can't be true ...]. ;-)
  • I've also been finishing off my recent altered / collaged book to share with you here soon - with lots of tips and ideas for how you can make something similar [so it's taking me longer than I thought!]
  • Plus I've been collecting together lots of festive 'stuff' to go into Christmas/December-ish themed Junk Journals ... which will be coming soon ...
But something I can offer you right here right now is the opportunity to go a bit random ...
These are my latest lucky-dip, sold unseen, dare you try, who knows what you'll find, priced to sell [just £2!!] crafty inspiration kit ...
Here's how I describe them in the shop:

*Randoms* are packs of 20+ items for you to add to your crafting supplies - sold on a lucky-dip basis. I'll simply pluck one - appropriately enough - at random for you.

You won't know what's inside the pack until you open it up ... and that's all part of the fun!!

Priced to be an affordable treat and a fun stocking filler
*Randoms* cost less than most take-out sandwiches and, unlike in a sandwich, you'll actually be pleased to find some odd surprises inside these packs!!

It's like your Grandma would say: "What can you get for a few quid these days?"

To give you an idea of what you can expect there are a few 'example' packs in the photos above. As a further clue ...

** there's nothing larger than a greetings card ...
** and nothing smaller than an atom!

And the kinds of items you might find inside your pack of random randoms include:
- ribbon
- patterned paper
- stickers
- buttons
- die cuts
- charms
- beads

Absorb them into your general supplies or ... maybe even challenge yourself to sue as many of them as possible in one go!

Be brave ... go random!

No one's left any official feedback on Etsy for their Randoms yet, but a satisfied customer did leave this comment on my 'WithJulieKirk' Facebook page after receiving hers: "Got my packs today. Absolutely loved them. It's quite exciting opening them to see what there is inside. A must buy!!"  ... which was fun to hear!
I personally love the 'mmm, I'm not quite sure what I've actually bought' thrill you get when  ... erm ... when I'm not quite sure what I've bought! [Remind me to tell you about the mysterious bulk lot of postcards I've bought on Ebay this week!]
You know what I mean ... the lure of the unknown, the lucky dip, the lottery, the tombola stall, the scratch card ...
Although ... I can absolutely guarantee you'll find something lovely inside your Random pack ... no nasty surprises, no booby prizes, no lump of coal if you've been naughty. Just a sealed envelope of nice bits and bobs I'm letting go of which you can use in your next project. After all someone else 'bits' are always more interesting than you're own ...
And on that note ... I'll be off.
See you when I get my glasses [which is another thing my Grandma used to say ...]
Julie :-)

Sunday 5 October 2014

My Month in Numbers 2014: September

Well hello there. We're just past the start of a brand new month and I can't remember the last time this happened.

Let me clarify ... I can remember the last time a new month happened, if memory serves me then that was round about this time last month ... but I can't recall the last time I was a little bit late in sharing my Month in Numbers - I always try to share mine on the last day of the month but this time it eluded me .. but I'm here now .. .albeit 5 days after I planned!

BTW: When other number-crunchers say they're 'late' posting theirs I tell them not to be silly; that there's no such thing as late - and all that still holds true: you're welcome to join me a week after, a month after, 6 months after the fact ... I really don't mind at all. But as the host ... I hold myself to stricter standards! ;-)

So, now that I'm duly admonished ... allow me to share the statistics that made themselves vital to my September 2014 ...

315ish = the number of book pages I set free [do you see how I phrased that nicely for those of you who flinch when I say 'cut up'?] from inside 'The Traditions of Edinburgh' to prepare it for my altered book project:
This was the 4th September in a row I've paused to document a lesson as part of Shimelle Laine's Learn Something New Everyday project and each year I try to record those thoughts in a different creative format. 

In previous years I've used:
... and as I have plenty of old books on hand ... and as I'd never made an altered book before seemed like the ideal option.

I plan to share my finished book pages, which feature a scrappy collage for each day of the month, here on my blog in the month ahead just as soon as it's all finished.

£0.00 = the cost to park for a day out in Redcar
This isn't the most exciting number I've ever shared and yet ... doesn't it make a difference when you don't have to pay for parking?

James knows of a little car park that's free on Saturdays [in Fisherman's Square just behind all the boats + trailers if you're interested!] and, because we didn't have to fork out for a ticket or rush back when it was due to expire, it meant we spent a much more relaxed day. So much so that we chose to spend it like tourists [even though it's just up the road from us!].

And being a tourist in Redcar means that you need to have fish and chips [as well as free parking Fisherman's Square has a great chippy too! They even do small portions which are perfect when you don't feel like ingesting something the size of a deep fried whale.] and ...

... having a lemon top from the ice cream legends Pacitto's.

1 lemon top [mine] + 1 strawberry top [James is awkward!]
And when I say it's an age old tourist tradition to eat a lemon top in Redcar... it's a slightly newer option to actually become one:
And, in between all the eating and touristy doings we also hunted out some vintage treasures in the charity shops ...

99p = the cost of 6 mini tea cups and a sugar bowl:
 They didn't come with matching saucers, which is probably why they were so cheap, but still ... how could I leave such pretties on the shelf for less than a £1?!

 And, while I was filling my house with vintage treasures on one hand ... on the other I was clearing them too ...

133 = the number of items I placed on my Pop-Up Market Stall on my Facebook page.
I certainly didn't sell all 133 items but it was a success nevertheless and packaging up all the orders certainly kept me busy for a few days!
I didn't have any sales target [my hope that I'd sell everything was clearly unrealistic!] however ... do you remember the real life stall I told you about in last month's numbers? Well ... I made more in the first few hours of my online sale than I did in 7 hours at the real world version. Which taught me something about the importance of having, taking time over, and appreciating my virtual niche!

Thank you so much to those who dropped by to browse, share and buy - brazen self-publicising link alert: many of the items left over are now back in my Etsy shop at their reduced prices!!

3000% = the increase in new 'Likes' on my page during my market stall sale!
While the sale was taking place lots of nice folk shared my links, photos and details on social media [thank you!!!!] which I can only assume is what led to an increase in my Likes. This was a big surprise to me and was something I wasn't anticipating. At all.

And while a 3000% increase sounds humongous ... what it actually means is that my usual growth rate is so small [come on now, I meant on my page ... there's no need to be rude about my height!] that any increase looked quite drastic! But hey ... when you need to write a post summarising your month in numbers ... the drastic ones are definitely welcome!

Several thousand = the number of old product images I deleted from my hard drive.
In organising the market stall I needed to find all the images of  my older stock to add them to the Facebook photo album. Then afterwards I went through all the photos of all the products I've ever listed in my Etsy shop sorting out ones to keep [so I had a record of all previous products] and what to delete [all the detail shots, doubles etc]. It felt almost as good to clear out the digital versions as it did to send off the physical items to their new homes!

Millions = the number of confetti scraps which filled a greenhouse at the Festival of Thrift:
'Full Circle' by Beccy McCray was an interactive installation ... but we didn't go inside. For one thing ...  we didn't know if it was just meant for kids [who tend to have all the fun at these kind of events!] and, for another ... from the traces of the cofetti that were in evidence all around the festival, here, there and everywhere ... I'm not sure I could have faced having it all drop out of my crevices for weeks to come ...
 And finally ...
3 = the number of episodes of serendipitous circularity that visited me this month ...
For a reason yet to reveal itself moments from my past kept resurfacing during September and while none of them, on their own, was especially momentous ... together they made an impression. Here's the 3 main blast-from-the-past moments:
11 years after he sold the house to us ... a letter addressed to the previous owner dropped through our letterbox. And not for the first time. In the past we've put the letters [all from the same company] back in the post and even emailed the company to tell them the recipient had moved. But they continued to arrive so, this time, I turned to Google, searched for the [fortunately unusual] name, found his work email address and asked him if he'd like his mail back! After sending me his new address his response was ... 'I hope it's not a bill'!
7 years after attending a one-off event with a student on campus ... he's returned to do some further study ... and, entirely coincidentally, I've been matched with him again. The best thing about this whole situation is ... if you're a long-standing reader here ... you'll know him too.

Well, you won't know him in person, but you'll remember he was the one taking part in the 'Laughter Workshop' I wrote about here a few years ago. Remember? The one where I used my professional status to avoid having to join in? If you missed it - do drop in here to catch up on the finer, more ridiculous, details. Since starting work with him once again last week we've reminisced about that afternoon which neither of us have forgotten! [Let's face it ... it's not the sort of thing you really can forget!]

And lastly ...
6 years after finishing it ... 4 random pages of a draft of screenplay I wrote resurfaced last week and yanked me out of the here and now and right back to the time I wrote it:
I took a screenwriting night class, for fun, back in 2008 and wrote a 15min comedy drama as part of the course. Then last week, while hunting out some scrap paper, to help me work out the construction of a craft project, I grabbed some sheets from a scrap pile I rarely ever use beneath the printer. When I turned it over ... there it was ... the draft with my handwritten edits scrawled across it.
So I stopped what I was making [a project using pretty patterned papers and flowers] and read this snatch of the whole [a drama about a boy with a disability and his struggling mother, with a dead cat and rabbit thrown in for good measure!]. Needless to say it was a bit of a culture shock ... and left me pondering my rather diverse interests and career paths!
And so ... those were my numbers; the digits that documented my September days. How about yours?
If you'd like to join me then - as always - if you leave me a comment with your link I'll be round to visit when I can [bearing in mind that it took me 5 days longer than normal to publish my own post ... don't be offended if I don't pop in for a little while. I will get around everyone's vital statistics in the end!].
If you'd like the full details on how to join in - with inspiration on how and what to count up each month ... then visit those here.
And if you just dropped in for a read then ... hello ... nice to see you! I hope something in my month connected with you in some way ... I often find in reading through all the Month in Numbers blogger's contributions that there's something familiar to me wrapped up in their numerals somewhere.
Happy October!
Julie :-)

Thursday 2 October 2014

It's a Sign: A dog's life [please don't shoot the messenger ...]

Hello hello.

Firstly ... I'm running slightly behind with my September Month in Numbers post ... all the numbers are there, I just need some photos ... and a few words and then I'll be back.

But, until then ... let me share a sign - of sorts - that caught my eye while James and I were waiting in line for lunch at the Festival of Thrift at Lingfield Point in  Darlington last weekend.

If you're a dog lover ... you might want to look away now. You might also end up being mad at me ... but let me just squeeze in my defence before you do and say ...

... whatever it is I'm to blame for here, it wasn't me who made the decision to park these two particular vans next to one another.

All I'm guilty of is noticing their rather unfortunate juxtaposition ... [oh ... and ... of taking a photo of it.]
That's one awkward way to answer the question 'Can you rehome a dog like me?'.

[For the record we ate a 'Snoop Dog' for lunch. And it was delicious.]

Julie ;-)