Sunday 30 November 2014

My Month in Numbers 2014: November

Greetings, greetings. Come on in, don't linger on the doorstep, your hair'll get frizzy if you stay out in that damp air for much longer. 

I've got some November numbers for you today ... and if you've got any you'd like to give me in return you can link me up after you say 'hi' in the comments [and if you'd like to know what on earth I'm talking about, then all is explained here.]

For me it's been one of those months where I feel I've been constantly on the go ... and yet when it came to write it up I couldn't find a lot of evidence of that! Being busy with my campus job, my magazine work and my shop products hasn't really led to any great stories to share ... unless ...

... unless I counted up:
  •  how many hours it took me to write my '101 alternative crafty supplies and where to find them' post ... which may well have been 101 for all I know!
  • or the longest day I spent finishing festive flavoured kits and adding them to Etsy [13hours ... if you're interested].
  • or how many ridiculous new jargon words I came across in one particular Uni module. [Anyone know/care what a 'scrumfall' is? And no, it's not a James Bond movie!]
But ... I have managed to summarise a few key moments in numbers, and here they are:

12 = the number of Doric columns in the hall at Belsay Hall, Northumberland, where we visited a Christmas fair at the start of the month:
We intended to make a good start to our Christmas shopping but instead we mainly just bought a beautiful piece of glass for ourselves from Joia Glasstried tasters of Cherry Brandy and then went for a wander around the hall and its grounds ... in the rain ...
And it was wonderful.

We hardly bumped into anyone at all as we made our way from the hall and through the 30 acres of gardens in their autumnal, decaying, glory:
And, although we've visited the impressive quarry gardens in summer before now, there was something even more atmospheric about being there in the mist, damp and drizzle:
Eventually, at the end of the walk we came across this view of Belsay castle:
Imagine having that tucked away at the bottom of the garden [we just have 3 wheelie bins and bag of compost.]

The castle began life as a fortification against conflict in the border regions [between England and Scotland] in the 14th Century!
Then later, in 1614, it was extended to become a family home for many subsequent generations:
 ... until December 25th 1817 when the family moved into the newly built Hall:
How's that for a Christmas present?

But, alas, in 1962 the last family moved out due to dry rot eating away at many of the rooms: leaving much of it a shell:
 Despite, or perhaps because it's abandoned it does still have an intriguing atmosphere and is worth a visit if you're up/down that way sometime.

Now my next statistics will take us from one set of bizarrely abandoned things ... to another ...
20kg / 3.15stone = the weight of the box of original retro Christmas cards I bought as a job lot! When the delivery man knocked on my door he said "Will you let me carry it in for you? It's heavy." ... and I didn't argue!
Here's what most of them looked like after James and I sorted them into piles on our living room floor:
 But of course ... for someone who documents her months in very specific statistics ... the overall weight was never going to be enough of a measurement for me to document and so ...

... I counted them. All. And, give or take a few - where I went Christmas-card-blind for a while - the total I reached was ... wait for it ... 863!!! Not to mention the 5 retro Advent Calendars that nestled in amongst them all too!

I'll share more photos of the cards themselves in a future post but for now, in case you're wondering:
  • I don't know where they came from, I bought them from a charity who, I assume, had them donated to them. Perhaps from a house clearance.
  • Judging by how many are immaculate, still in their cellophane wrappers with many still bundled together and wrapped in brown paper packets from the manufacturer ... my guess is they were overstock from a shop during the 1970s and 80s. Where they're been in the intervening years ... I'll never know.
  • And as for what I'm going to do with them ... well, you'll find 5 of them  inside each of the 'Festive Junk Journals' in my shop. And I'll offer some for sale individually too eventually [or you can get n touch if you fancy buying a lucky dip pack or ... whatever! There's plenty to go around!]. 
And while were on a festive theme ...

6 = the number of Santas who rode past us on motorbikes as we headed home on Saturday! And, once we were home I ate my 1st iced mince pie of the season. Ho ho ho indeed!


There were doubtless more Novemberish numbers ... but I'll better get out of the way for now ... I can feel an eager December waiting in the wings ready to put on a full festive performance.

If you'd like to join me with your statistics ... you're very welcome to. I've not been perfect at pinning and commenting everyone's in recent months ... but I'll keep trying! Just let me know if I've missed you.

See you soon.


Friday 28 November 2014

Card making: My, what a big 'tache you have Mr.Bear?

Hello hello.
I'm taking a break from my altered book and collage adventure posts to bring you something easier and quicker to demonstrate!!
[Seriously ... my previous post: '101 alternative crafty supplies and where to find them' post wiped the floor with me ... so please ... take pity on me and hop over to read it if you haven't already ... make me feel useful ...]. ;-)
And so ... while I get my crafty strength back [I'm pretty sure there'll be tea and the Christmas24 channel involved]  ... how about we just look at a cute bear instead?
When I spotted the 'Mr. Bear' stamp set [from Creative Expressions /designed by Sam Poole] in the shop he made me smile straight away.

Yes he is a bear, and no I don't make cards for children [for the record: that's just because I don't know any children ... not because I'm downright mean!] ... and yet he falls into that winning category, highly-prized in amongst my crafting friends, of being "cute ... in a good way."

[And yes, there is such a thing as cute in a bad way ... but I'm not naming names!]

So, despite not knowing what on earth I'd do with him, his shabby charm and wistful expression [that face!!] won me over; and he ended up coming home with me:
 This was the first card I made with him and I ...
  • ... stamped him on to a slightly patterned paper [I can hardly bear - ha! bear! - to stamp on plain white card].
  • Then I used Promarkers to add coloured eyes, nose, tummy and general shading here and there.
  •  I also snipped his arms free so he could hold the sentiment [from the same stamp set].
  • And, as finishing touches I added a Stickles glitter to his ears and Glossy Accents to give him shiny eyes and a wet nose. [Not that I'm sure that indicates a healthy bear or not. I can't even swear it's true for dogs because if I was ever close enough to touch a dog's nose ... I probably wouldn't be conscious to know either way ...]
And that was a good start ...he proved himself to be a lovely stamp indeed ... but then, because I'm a meddler, a tinkerer, a I-like-this-but-I-like-going-my-own-way-even-better style of crafter ...

... I had an idea that - much as was the fate of my dolls when I was little - he'd feel more like my own if I could customise him a little ...

... and so, next time around, I gave him glasses:
Basically I had the 'Moustache and Glasses' set from Dovecraft and I wasn't afraid to use it!
  • To create a contrast between the bear and his specs I stamped the figure in a greyish/brown shade and the glasses directly on top in black.
  • Again, I added Glossy Accents, only this time to act as the glass in the frames.
And then, well, I'd tried him with the glasses from the set ... now I wanted to see what some dapper facial hair would do for him ...

... so I gave him a moustache:
Oh and, because every good hipster loves to show off their facial hair in an artisan tea/coffee shop ... I added a coffee cup stamp from yet another brand, the 'Coffee Love' Stamp Set from Precious Remembrance:
Don't the grid designs on both the bear and the cup work well together? I love the surprise elements you can stumble across when combining different supplies!
And finally ... because I'd used the glasses and a moustache separately ... and because sometimes more is more ...
... I gave him a  glasses AND a moustache:
And here are those Glossy Accented spectacles:
And - for those of you who prefer to work from visuals rather than my ramblings - here's a quick re-cap of what I've been trying to say:  
Mixing and matching stamp sets by Julie Kirk
"Take 5"
5 ideas to take away & use in your own crafting
  1. Go with your gut instinct when choosing supplies: although you can't always buy everything that catches your eye, occasionally when something draws you in and grabs your imagination, it's nice to give in and treat yourself! I loved Mr.Bear but I didn't know what I'd do with him and so I hesitated ... and now I'm glad I went back and collected him - he's been fun to play with.
  2. Stamp on to patterned paper: to give you an interesting background on to which it's easy to add additional shading. The pre-coloured base saves you having to colour-in from scratch!
  3. Mix and match between stamp sets: just because they weren't originally designed to go together doesn't mean you can't make something amazing from the new combination [think: bacon and maple syrup or Sherlock and Molly Hooper].
  4. Use Glossy Accents on eyes, glasses and noses etc: on stamped images I mean ... not on yourself ... for goodness sake .. you're not safe to be on your own are you?
  5. Everything looks better with a moustache: see Exhibits A, and  B for the evidence!  
And that's it from me for this week, go on ... make my day [or at least 2 whole joyous minutes of it] by pinning, sharing or commenting on my beary ideas. Thank you in advance!
Julie :-) 
Product disclosure:
None of the links in this post are affiliate/sponsored and I bought all of the stamps with my own money because I liked them. [And also because my friend Janet said the Creative Expressions ones in that range stamped really well ... which swayed me to buy a bear I didn't know I needed!]
All links go directly to the manufacturer's sites but the stamps are available elsewhere.
If you're in the UK and you're looking for a Precious Remembrance stockist then try Sprinkle Twinkle. Again, this isn't a sponsored link, I just know it's tricky to find US brands here, and that's where I got mine.

Saturday 22 November 2014

101* alternative crafty supplies + where to find them. [*There probably won't be 101 ... but hey, I tried!]

Hello, hello.

If you're here, reading this, then I'd guess that either messing about with paper and glue is currently your cup of tea ... or you'd like it to be and have landed here looking for inspiration. Either way this list of 101* items you could use in collage / mixed media / general paper-crafting must contain at least one thing that sparks your imagination and gets you reaching for something new.
And it will demonstrate that:
  • there are plenty of less obvious - but still inspiring - supplies and sources out there;
  • that you don't always need to spend a lot of money on the latest trends;
  • and that there are many creative alternatives out there just waiting to be discovered and incorporated into your next project!
*But before we begin, I'll confess that it's more like 101-ish materials and ideas. Give or take a few ...

... so I'm hoping that you will contribute your own ideas in the ... comments then I'll add them to the list! [What? You didn't think I'd be doing all the work did you?]

And, even though I was inspired to write the list now as part of my altered book and collage adventure, the ideas behind it are universal and can relate to any kind of collage/mixed media project.

So, let's begin our search for new supplies shall we?

I've divided the list into the various places in which you'll find them and you may be pleased to hear that for many of the categories, you won't even need to leave the comfort of your house/pyjamas!

Let's start by going as far as your front door and, if you are in your pyjamas, it's probably best if you stray no further than that for now ...

(a)Supplies you might find in your hallway:

1. Junk mail: OK, yes, it is annoying when you see all the mail on the mat, begin to feel important and loved, and then realise it's actually all take-away menus and offers to quote you to cut down trees you don't have. But, before you drop it into the recycling bin, scan your eye over it for any interesting images, colours, textures or phrases you could snip out and keep. Think of it as a free collage-supply delivery service.

2. Security envelopes: One of the few pleasures of opening official-looking mail is in finding a new print inside the envelope! I know it's not just me! Here's an art journal page I made featuring a security envelope:
... and also a scrapbook page - one of many postal themed projects in my Going Postal series. Similarly ...

3. Wording / phrases from envelopes: such as the 'Printed Matter' snippet on this page:
 Other fun slogans that can come in useful on journal pages include: 'Fragile' and 'Do Not Bend'!

4. Postage stamps: there's always something vaguely romantic and nostalgic about those perfectly petite and colourful rectangles that drop on to your door mat. If you don't receive much stamped mail then seek out a vintage pack. [Again Going Postal featured lots of projects using stamps such as this scrapbook page.]

5. Magazines: Once you've read them ... take the scissors to them!

Is your coat and bag hanging up in the hall? Then go and check them for:

6. Train tickets 
7. Car parking tickets
8. Bus tickets
9. Receipts
Not only can these make interesting backdrops in their own right - because of the specific details they contain  - date / location/ what you bought etc - they're great for using on pages that document a particular event / moment in time. Here's an art journal page of mine where I used a bus ticket and receipt.

10. Paper bags from your purchases: when you come home and dump your shopping in the hall ... take a look at the paper bags before throwing them away. I keep pretty much all of mine - and while the small ones make useful pockets for junk journals [like in my summertime Junk Journal] the full size bags make perfect full-size journals/scrapbooks in their own right. [If you took the Christmas craft class '12 Days' which I hosted with Kirsty Neale a few years back there's a full tutorial on how to make one - dig out your class notes!]

11. Price tags / hang tags: while you're there, sorting through your purchases so you can keep the bag ... remember to save those hang-tags too. Some of those are a work of art in themselves and make fun additions to pages. [I made a whole mini book from hang-tags too].

12. Packing paper: I don't know what it is about brown paper packages that I find so attractive[let's blame Julie Andrews shall we?] ... and part of me can't bear to throw it away. When a parcel was delivered to me containing lots of paper as wadding inside, I kept it and made a journal with it! Check out the instructions here.

13: Cardboard boxes: Ah, where would my junk journals be without a good old cardboard box?!
Cardboard covers can easily be decorated and disguised entirely ... unless you like cardboard / packing materials so much you want to keep some of it on display [yes, of course, I fall into the latter category!]

OK, with all your supply-hunting, you've probably worked up a thirst by now so let's grab a cuppa ...

(b)Supplies you might find in your kitchen:

14. Tea bags: yes, the actual tea bag ... not the paper bag it comes in - Anna Dabrowska / Finnabair created this lovely page from tea bags!
15. Individual tea bag packets: some of these have pretty designs / prints - in fact a whole craft technique emerged form them [tea-bag folding!!] but you can equally use the prints in scrappy style collage.
16. Tea bag labels: I used one of these in the background to this messy journal page a while ago.

17.Coffee filters: they're papery and textured ... so they're fair game for painting/inking on!

18. Deli paper: this can be tricky to get hold of in the UK but it's nice stuff to paint on / use with a gelli-plate if you can get hold of it.

19. Kitchen roll: yes, the stuff you mop up spills with. But if your spills are pretty, inky, ones then try my step-by-step 'faux alcohol inks' tutorial with them!

20. Patterned napkins: pretty, affordable [especially if you just 'save' one from the lunch table you find yourself at ...] and, when you separate the layers they're very easy to glue to any surface [like a canvas]. Here my friend Kirsty Neale shows, step-by-step, how you can up-cycle a stool using napkins!

21. Food packaging: It's always worth casting a creative eye over the boxes and packets in your food cupboards ... you just never know when a font, graphic or print will leap out at you. Here's a breakdown of a journal page I blogged during my 'Rubbish Week' series - featuring food packaging:
 22. Egg boxes: Yes, I have used an egg box as a junk journal cover. What? I was a nice one...

23. Recipe cards: I bought a pack of these. I hardly ever refer to a recipe. Therefore ... they became collage fodder!!

(c)Supplies you might find in your office:

24. Lined paper: Boring? Only if you don't love stationary!! [Who doesn't love stationary]. I like to use it as a base for journaling with my typewriter. 
25. Graph paper: What can I say? I took CDT [Craft, Design & Technology] for my GCSEs ... and there was a lot of tech-drawing involved .. maybe this is where my love of it came from. But all in all, graph paper does have a charm of its own - maybe a geeky one - and it looks great in collage.

The same goes for any old lined / gridded etc school books you might have in the loft, or ones you find in junk shops/car boot sales. Slightly aged paper is my favourite to work with. [I'm a sucker for authenticity!].

26. Sticky notes / Post-its: If you need a splash of neon [and, let's face it, everyone needs a splash of neon sometime], them reach for a sticky-note. Sorted!

27. Desk pad: Y'know, those pads of paper you can doodle on etc while you're working / browsing Pinterest? Occasionally I find I've doodled / written something particularly nice / interesting ... and I tear it off for future use!

28. Index cards: I use these a lot in my junk journals, again, they're great for typing/stamping on to.
29. Postcards: new blank ones are just as useful as index cards for making quick journal pages.

30. Diary pages: any unused pages in old diaries fit into the same category as lined peper etc: all good collage / journaling materials. It's a reason to hang on to all those promotional ones / freebies on the front of magazines that you get inundated with at Christmas and New Year.

31. Laminator sheets: I once made fashion accessories by heat-laminating patterned papers ... so I see no reason why you shouldn't!

32. Print outs: I also once used a water-stained computer print out as the base for a journal page:
Well ... printer ink is so expensive, you might as well set it to work for you! Same goes for ...

33. Bad photo prints: Again, ink is so expensive ... plus I like a challenge. Why not re-use any imperfect prints you've made? Visit my full tutorial here:
34. Wrapping paper: ... is not just for Christmas /birthdays, it's for playing with all year round. so many colours and prints you'd be a crazy print-neglecting fool not to save some scraps for your collage/journal pages.

(d)Supplies you might find in your craft room/cupboard:
If you're a more traditional card maker or scrapbooker and have been joining in with my altered book and collage adventure, or if you've always wanted to try something a little messier, more freestyle, more collagey/art-journally/ mixed-media-ish then you might be put off by thinking that trying a new style would automatically mean a whole new set of supplies.

Well ... I'm happy to say there's absolutely no need whatsoever! It's like when Dorothy discovers in the Wizard of Oz that she had everything she needed all along! And. to paraphrase Bananarama [who'd have thought that would be a phrase you'd find yourself reading today?] 'It aint what you use it's the way that you use it' as so many seemingly traditional crafty supplies can be transformed when incorporated into collage etc. Here are a few ideas ...

35. Patterned papers you've had for years / papers you no longer love: Maybe these will look better snipped into small strips and used in abstract collage? If not have a session where you lay them all out and paint over them / knock-back their colours with gesso. They can then become backgrounds or snippets.

36. Origami papers: some of these have really pretty designs so are worth snipping and experimenting with even if you never plan to fold them!

37. Tissue paper: Perfect for covering canvases or for layering up under painted layers to create texture.
38. Crepe paper: Again ... nice base textures - also nice to die-cut.

39. Handmade papers: More texture! Lovely to paint on too and they absorb inks nicely too. Similarly ...
40. Watercolour paper: If you've dabbled in painting then you might have a pad of this laying around. It's great for using with inks [as well as paint] and, the beauty of my favoured style of collage [where I chop papers up fairly small] is that, I can experiment with inky /painty techniques on the paper then snip it up and use it in an abstract design purely for its interesting colour / pattern etc.[The image at No.41 features some pale inked designs on watercolour paper].
41. Corrugated card: I think this one extends on from my love of packaging supplies and textures. Snip, staple, enjoy!

42. Vellum or parchment: Call me the Emperor's new collage artist but I enjoyed adding a translucent layer to some of my recent pages [you can just make out where I stapled it]:
Plus, the more grainy parchment paper was nice to type on - as I did here [above] with my journaling.

43. Acetate: OK, yes, this is even more see-through than vellum but it can be used for more than shaker cards! Paint on it/ alcohol ink it / Promarker it. Chop it up, punch holes in it, stitch through it ... combine it with No.19 'Kitchen Roll' to make faux alcohol ink effects!

And while we're on the topic of translucent materials ...
44. Mica tiles: Like me, you might have some of these languishing in the back of your cupboard! For a long time I wondered what on earth I was meant to do with these so, as with most things in life, I added paper to them and felt better immediately! Here's one of my experiments.

45. Washi tape: Use it to add quick colour to a collage / page, use it to make a collage in its own right. Use it as a 'hinge' to add extra layers / flaps. Edge your pages with colour and print  just like I did in my altered book:
And even make patchwork embellishments with your off cuts!

46. Alphabet sticker sheets: when you realise you're never going to use up every letter in a full sheet of alpha stickers simply chop up the entire sheet and use it or its surrounds as a page in a junk journal
47. Sticker sheet surrounds: The same principle applies. I tend to use stickers and labels etc on my more traditional projects, such as my magazine work, then keep the surrounds to add interest to slightly edgier / more relaxed projects. I simply peel off the outer surrounds and use them as a layer on my page.

48. Die-cut outers: Like with the surrounds of the sticker sheets I like to use the outer shape left behind when I've been die-cutting. I think I take a perverse satisfaction from using the bit I'm not 'officially' mean to. [In the history of great rebellions this one is, I grant you, somewhat minor ...].
49. Punched shapes: OK so yes .. sometimes I even use the shape as it comes, direct from the punch! My point is ... just because you might use your dies and punches in your card making etc ... don't think they won't work in a more relaxed / arty / edgy style. They do! If in doubt ... staple the shape to the page ... stapling always make me feel I've done something a bit more radical!!  Again .. small rebellions ... ;-)

50. Stamped images: If a stamped image comes out imperfect and not fit for the job in hand ... save it for your messier work. Maybe chop it up or punch a shape from it, enjoy it as a background design without it needing to be recognisable.

51. Embossed paper: embossing folders may not immediately strike you as the most avant garde supply in the crafting world but embossed designs, snipped up into smaller sections, make really lovely, textured, additions to collage.

52: Heat embossing: Another of the overlooked / old-school supplies that you really can rehabilitate and use in a freer manner. I wrote a few 'How Tos' on the subject a while back here: 

53. Cross stitch fabric: I recently had some tiny scraps of this hanging around ... and they found their way nicely on to a page. Another texture, another way to use white. It doesn't need to make any 'sense' as such ... so long as it works on the page! Same goes for off-cuts of:
54. Fabric: Use it just as you would use your patterned papers.
55. Mesh: Whether it's a light netting fabric or a plastic mesh, it can all come in useful when layering up interesting textures on a project.

OK, you've done a lot of rummaging around in cupboards so, in case you need to sit and put your feet up for a while,  let me offer you a few easy alternatives to seeking out all your own supplies ...

(e)Supplies you can find in my shop!: I  know, you're quite right, it is shameless self-promotion .. but if you knew how long this post has taken me to compile ... you'd let me off the hook.

If you like the idea of dabbling in some alternative supplies but you'd prefer someone else to all the searching, unearthing, sifting, sorting, curating and delivering for you ... then that's what my shop's there for!

56. Challenge me to create a custom 'Plundered Pages' or 'Ephemera Bits' kit: If there's a theme you've been thinking of working with and would like a ready-made pack of papers that fit - without you having to source them all - then pass the job on to me. My recent commissions have ranged from 'Graffiti style' to 'Shabby Chic' and 'Roller Derby' to 'Inside Santa's Grotto'! So, if you have something in mind .. we can chat about it.

Or else just have a more general browse around as I also sell ...
57. Retro map packs: these contain sections from a selection of different old maps and make lovely backgrounds / areas of colour on a collage.
58. Numbers and Diagrams: Absolutely one of my all time favourite supplies to use is sheets of number text .... not sure why ... maybe it's because it doesn't compete too much with any wording on a page.
Whatever it is ... I like it!

59. Vintage sheet music: always a nice backround design, and always looks great used with inkes and watery paints.
60. Foreign Language text packs: Only 'foreign if you don't speak it of course .. but they always make for interesting snippets on pages. [Pages are available in various different languages - Italian, German, Russian, Polish ... and more ...and  if there's anything I might have that you fancy, just ask!].
And a more recent addition to my range is:

61. Collage scrap packs: These are small boosts to your existing supplies made up from all kinds of snippets, off-cuts and chopped up treasures leftover from my own projects. Because someone else's 'bits' are always more intriguing than your own! ;-) 

But ... if you don't want to do any of that [I'll try to not take it personally ... ] then ...

(g)Other places to source inspiring / unique supplies:
62. Ebay: But beware ... you can drop in there looking for something as innocuous as envelopes ... and come away with 20kg of vintage Christmas cards. Ask me how I know ...
63. Car boot sales: Can be hit and miss, but when it's a hit ... ahhhhhh ... it's worth it!
64. Charity shops: Off-set the guilt of buying yet more supplies with donating to a good cause! Win win!
65. Junk shops: Genuine, rummagey, old-tat, shops are getting fewer and far between. Whenever you see one - go in! You never know if it will have been replaced by a takeaway the next time you're passing!

66. Things that drop out of old books! Once you start buying the occasional old book you'll begin to find all kinds of things inside them! I've found notes, postcards and homemade bookmarks amongst other things ... for more on the interesting things left behind visit Forgotten Bookmarks - a site dedicated to just that!

67. Your own loft: Do you really know what's in there? There might be all kinds of things you've fallen out of love with over the intervening years .... now you can happily chop it up!!
68. Someone else's loft: ... with permission  ... naturally! But who knows ... one man's trash ....

69. The children's sections of craft shops / supermarkets: Kids supplies can actually be pretty inspiring mainly because they 're not the kinds of things we're so used to seeing in regular more 'grown up' sections! [You don't see many stick-on googly eyes in the latest arty-chic scrapbooking ranges do you?].  Plus, things like masks / stencils can be a lot cheaper when manufacturers are aiming them at children ... I got this stencil set for under £1!
70. The children's section in charity shops:  Many of my favourite vintage pages are those which began life as children's books [so much so that I actually have a collection of children's illustrated dictionaries that I don't cut up! Imagine that!].

Similarly ... continue in the mindset of looking in places you wouldn't normally consider and try this ...

(h)Look where the specialists look!:
Just because you're a paper-crafter with a full and intimate knowledge of every craft shop in a 50mile radius [plus a dozen or so online stores in your Favourites ... ] it shouldn't mean you limit yourself to only using supplies which are connected to your hobby: broaden your horizons ... and go steal the best bits from other people's hobbies!

71. Use pages from science books, technical manuals, medical books etc: Old books from other fields often have really interesting and inspiring illustrations:
72. Postcard collections: If you spot an old collections of postcards being sold off at a car boot sale,  vintage market etc] then snap it up! I used lots of them in my '30 Postcards to Myself' journal:
73. Stamps: Same as with postcards - if you see a stamp collection going cheap, buy them! I snapped up a whole collection in a charity shop a while back and it's kept me in colourful little nostalgic rectangles ever since!

74. Sewing patterns: Make use of both the retro designs on the packets and the tissue patterns inside.

75. Patterns inside old craft magazines: When you come across a pile of old crafting magazines at a car-boot etc, don't be put off by the fact you don't actually want to make the items they have patterns for. The patterns themselves are printed on thin, matt, paper then simply use the pattern iself to add an interesting design to a page! Here's one I made earlier ...
76. Playing cards: Old playing cards often have attractive designs on the reverse.

77. Collectors cards / cigarette cards: These are getting harder to find at an affordable / 'I'm-not-worried-about-cutting-up-collectables-that-might-be-worth-something' price. But if you can find them, snap them up. The vintage illustrations on them really do make special additions to mini albums / journals etc [Like the illustration in the centre below]:

(h)Supplies you can find while you're out and about:
78. Flyers: You never know when there'll be an interesting image / phrase on one. It's occasionally worth allowing the flyer hander-outers to thrust one into your hand. A flyer that is ...

79. Brochures + free newspapers:  Again, they're free and worth a glance. When I'm working on campus there's often a lot of brochures, leaflets etc laying around ... some of which make their way home with me.

80. Paint colour cards / wallpaper / fabric / any commercial samples: Once your redecorating's all done, these can come in useful snipped up and stuck down somewhere other than your living room wall!

Supplies you can find with the help of the 'crafting village':

You know the African traditional phrase that 'It takes a village to raise a child?' well, my friends and I have a saying that it takes a crafty village to make sure a fellow crafter has everything they need!

We generally apply this to the times we're at our monthly crop for example ... if you find you've forgotten a supply you need, or it runs out mid-project ... you're welcome to just yell out and someone will gladly share theirs with you. [We're nice like that.]  Or if you go away with us for a crafting weekend and you forget every craft tool you own because you left your crafting tote behind your front door and didn't see it when you were packing the car ... [but who, who, would do such a stupid thing ... ahem ... ] then someone will make sure you don't go without.

So for my final suggestions I'm going to encourage you to get a little bit social with your supplies:

81. Join in a swap: It could be an official, organised swap [there's often one happening somewhere online, a blog, website, Facebook group] or organise one yourself!

82. Swap with friends / local craft group: Again, this is something my crafty cropping friends and I do. This month we brought items to the crop that we wanted to sell and I cleared out some old stamps I no longer wanted while someone else got something new and inspiring at a bargain price. Next time round we're bringing things we want to swap or give away for free!

83. Someone else's 'bit boxes' and leftovers: My friends and I do this as well: share each others bit bags, offer up any leftovers to whoever wants them before they head for the bin, generally just take advantage of what's a bit 'been-there-done-that' to the original owner ... but which becomes the newest favourite supply to whoever claimed it!

It's like I've always said ... someone else's 'bits' are always more interesting than your own ...


Right then ... while we're in a sharing mood, I'm going to prevail upon your community spirit to reach the goal of '101 alternative crafty supplies + where to find them'!!

I've managed 83 ... so I've opened up Nos.84 - 101 to your suggestions ... leave your idea in the comments and I'll add them to the list:

Kathrine / Sutty from 'Fruit of my Scraps'  contributed:
84. 'Non-sterile medical gauzes which are fairly inexpensive
85. Plasterboard tape
86. Buttons from worn-out clothes
87. Gardener's twine and string

Kirsty Neale of 'Ginger & George' suggested using:
88. Old board games: the cards, pieces and the board itself.
89. Doilies: especially as stencils
90. Pretty / fancy sweet wrappers
91. Wine bottle labels
92. Erasers and corks: for making stamped impressions
93. Cupcake cases: [Kirsty reminded me that I'd actually done a whole '10 Ways with ...' feature for Papercraft Inspirations magazine using them ... but clearly I'd forgotten when it came to writing the list!]
94. Ribbons / trimmings recycled from gift-wrapping or boutique packaging.
95. Clothing catalogues
96. Patterned paper straws [In fact I did another '10 Ways with .. ' feature - with paper straws! How am I forgetting all those?!]

Joanna Caskie of The Craft Croft said:
97. Children's art: I'll let Joanna explain this one herself: "Call me a terrible Mother, but I sacrifice some of my children's artwork for other causes. They produce sooo much so some of it goes on the walls but some can become wrapping paper, birthday cards, collage elements or notebook covers'.

If you've found anything in this post useful [goodness knows I hope you have ...or else you're exceptionally hard to please!!] then it would make my day if you could SHARE, PIN, COMMENT or OFFER A SUGGESTION. Thank you!

Julie :-)

If you've missed any of my earlier posts in the collage + altered book adventure, you can catch up here:
The 'Fortune & Geese Favour the Bold' Itinerary:
  • Part 1: Prep notes and supplies list
  • Part 2: Introducing a themed focus into your altered book / journal
  • Part 3: Turning an old book into a new home for your collage
  • Part 4: 101 alternative crafty supplies ... and where to find them

  • Wednesday 19 November 2014

    Are you planning to document 'the most wonderful time of the year'? - then how about a *Festive junk journal* & some *Christmassy Bits*?

    Hello hello.

    2014 has really been the year of the junk journal in my Etsy shop but also in my own crafting:
    And if, like me, you like the idea of recording the moments, lists, details, photos, thoughts etc of the season with a relaxed creative project ... then take a look at the 'Festive Junk Journal' packs I've put together and see which one rings your [jingle] bell.

    Oh and, if you need any more persuading ... these kits are truly unique as each pack contains a selection of 5 original, unused, Christmas cards from the 70s/80s!! If you're of a certain age [like me] then you're likely to even recognise some of them ... they're an amazing blast from the past!

    Over the 10 different designs of pack there's a colour-combination to suit most tastes and there are  'Christmassy Bits' embellishment packs to coordinate with them too: 

    [A] Some are bright / modern / pink / purple/ eclectic ...
    [B] ... while others are red / blue / green and full of character:
    Above: 'Rockin Robin'; 'Rockin Around the Christmas Tree'; 'Baby It's Cold Outside', 'Thomas at Christmas';  Blue + Red Christmassy Bits.

    [C] ... then there are those in typical traditional deep reds / burgundy / fir green:
     Above: 'The Holly & The Ivy'; 'A Partridge in a Pear Tree'; 'Rouge & Turquoise' Christmassy Bits.

    [D] And finally ... something soft / vintage / romantic / neutral:
     Above: 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing'; 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen'; White Gold + Ice / Gold Christmassy Bits.

    And there a few more on the shop shelves too. And here are a few more details on the journals:
    *FESTIVE JUNK JOURNAL* bits packs contain 25+ items including ...
    1.  5 **unused** ORIGINAL Christmas cards from the 70s/80s in shades which compliment the pack. You can use these as pages in your book [I have in mine!] or else to send to loved ones - it's entirely up to you. [Please note that, as the cards are over approx. 30years old some may be imperfect around the edges].
    2. approx. 25 colour-co-ordinated items including pockets, patterned paper pages, labels, tags etc
    3. something a bit sturdier to use as a cover plus a section of corrugated card to use as a book spine [complete with link to a tutorial].
    4. plus approx. 1 metre of coordinating twine.
    Book rings are not included but are available separately here.


    If you've got any questions about the packs, then ask away [either here or on my Facebook page]. I'm sure I'll get around to sharing photos of my own journal at some point but, until then, if you need inspiration of what to do with a pack like this then just browse back through my other journals of 2014 as the principles exactly the same .... just less festive!

    Julie :-)

    p.s: I'm planning to offer some more of the original retro Christmas cards for sale singly - not in packs - so if there's any that have caught your eye then hold that thought ....

    Friday 14 November 2014

    How to turn an old book into a new home for your collage: 'Fortune & Geese Favour the Bold' Part 3

    Hi there.

    Thanks for the feedback you've left on the series so far - it means a lot to me to know that the posts are inspiring you to find and old book, choose a theme and start preparing to embark on a collage adventure with me!
    Seeing as you've, metaphorically and practically speaking, got your creative bags packed and ready to go I thought it was about time I shared the itinerary ...

    We've already meandered through:
    And if we're here today then this must be :
    Then, further down the road, we'll be stopping off at:
    • Part 4: 101 ideas for what to use as collage materials ... and where to find them *COMING SOON* [Well, I say '101 ways' because it sounds good but, if we're being honest it's unlikely to be 101 ...].
    • Part 5: Using abstract designs as well as figures in your collage *COMING A BIT LESS SOON*
    • Part 6: The finishing touches. Including adding wording, gilding and more. *COMING EVEN MORE A BIT LESS SOON* [You'd never guess I had an English degree would you?]
    For now though let's look at how you can breathe new life into an old, unloved, neglected, never-to-be-read-again hardback ...
    Turning an old book into a new home for your collage:
    So, you've raided your bookshelf/loft/charity shop and found a suitable old book to alter .. what now? Well, as is often the way in life, before we can build something better ... we have to tear down the old!
    Or, in our case tear out the old. Pages that is.
    [Please note: This is where you might need to blindfold and gag the good child in you who was brought up to have a reverential attitude towards books! Just treat it like it was one of your siblings instead ...]. 
    You might wonder why we're going to tear out pages to make a book ... when there's already a perfectly good book-shaped book in our hands. But you will need to tear out a certain amount of pages in order to make space for the additional layers of papers you're going to add via your collages.
    I know that it seems a bit strange, that a sheet of paper is so thin how could it possibly fill up the book? But when you're adding something to every page it soon starts to bulk up.
    For a rough idea of how much space inside the book your collages will take up try this quick, visual, experiment:
    • Pick up even just a selection of the papers you've set aside to use in this project and tuck them inside your book.
    • Now try to close it.
    • You'll see that already the book has become wedge shaped; with covers that no longer run parallel!
    • And it's only going to get worse the more work you do inside.
    Look ...basically what I'm saying is: there's no way around it, you're going to have to get tearing!
    But before beginning the deconstruction process... you first need to decide how many sections you want/need.
    • If you're following along with something like Ali Edwards' 'December Daily' or Shimelle Laine's 'Journal Your Christmas' or indeed any festive type project of your own or a meme etc you've found on social media you might want to have anywhere between 25 - 35 sections [depending on whether you plan to add something every day of the month or not].
    • If you're just creating a more general project, you might want to judge the number of sections based on how large your book is - how many sections could it comfortably be broken into?
    • Also take into consideration the depth of your chosen supplies: if you're planning to use lots of textures / fabrics / chunky embellishments then remove more pages to allow yourself more room.
    • And do ask yourself if you want the book to close completely - or will you be OK with it heaving open slightly? Take that into account when you decide how many pages to remove.  
    I divided my book into approximately 32 sections: one each for the for the days in September [remember mine was to house my daily thoughts throughout September as part of the 'Learn Something New Everyday' project.] plus a couple of extra pages for an introduction.

    I also had to make space for 30 mini envelopes, one for each page, plus 30+ sheets of notepaper onto which I wrote the journaling that I then hid inside the envelopes! You won't be surprised to learn that, despite removing over 300 pages ...
    .. .with all those additional supplies inside my book no longer closes fully!

    **PLEASE NOTE: I'm talking here about the number of SECTIONS you need and not the number of pages!

    My book has 32 separate sections but these are made up of several pages glued together! Don't tear out all but 30-odd pages, as that would leave you with a very thin book indeed! 

    Where to begin:
    Once you've decided roughly how many sections to divide the book into open it up and look at how it has been bound.

    Is it broken up into 'signatures'?
    • Those are the segments of a book where larger sheets of paper are stacked on one another, folded over and then stitched through the centre fold with thread.
    If so, then you'll need to:
    1. Find the centre fold of each segment.
    2. Decide how many pages from each fold to remove.
    3. Do NOT cut the thread holding them together!!! You don't want the whole signature to drop out!
    4. Carefully tear out the pages but be careful NOT to pull too hard at the thread or it may snap.
    5. TIP: hold a ruler along the centre fold and tear against that rather than pulling against the thread.
    6. Repeat this step for each signature until you've thinned down the book to the size you wanted.
    Here's my book at this stage. Notice how I've thinned it our evenly right throughout the book:
    Gluing the pages together: 
    Gluing 2 or 3 pages together will create nice, sturdy bases on to which you can collage. Even if your paper is thick, it won't hurt to double or triple-up. And if you intend to use paint, ink, wet glue etc on your pages then the stronger they are, the better.
    • Go through the book gluing around 2-3 pages together [or more if your paper is very thin].
    • To do this I used a regular glue stick [I like good old Pritt, but I'm sure you have your own favourites] as it was easier than spreading a wet glue. Remember I had to repeat the process 60 or more times to create 30 sections ... so I was happy with any available short-cut!
    You can see here that I kept track of how many sections I'd created using paper clips and sticky-notes:
    If any of the threads binding the pages did tear when you tore out your pages [some of mine did - it's an old, brittle book] then simply plaster down the loose ends of the thread with a wet glue.

    And if you find you have any loose pages anywhere in the book simply stick them to the next page along.

    • This might be a little trickier ... but with plenty of glue you'll probably get away with it!
    • Tear out the pages carefully 
    • Brush some glue down directly into the spine - along the space left behind from the pages you've removed.
    • Hide the 'gappy' areas by gluing together the pages either side of the gap.
    TIP: Hang on to all those pages you've torn out as they'll come in handy for future projects:
    • paint on them / use them with a gelli-plate
    • die-cut from them
    • use them as backgrounds for cards and scrapbook pages 
    • make mini-envelopes
    • and even mini books ... and lots more!
    Let the RE-construction commence ...
    Once you've finished the destructive elements you should now have a hardback book filled with new double/triple thickness pages ... and it'll probably be feeling a little bit like a shadow of its former self!

    So it's your job to start breathing life back into it with whatever creative methods and styles you choose.

    As I planned to add wording to my collages I wanted to subdue some of the distracting background print of my pages; so I used a brayer to apply acrylic paint over the text area of each page:
    I chose to use the brayer as it was really quick and easy - you can see how the roller is the same width as the text so it was idea to just speedily add the paint over it. If you don't have a brayer a paintbrush or sponge will do!

    The NEXT STEP ... is to begin adding in all those lovely papers and images you've set aside to match your theme!

    Here's another of my completed pages:
     Once your book is there, ready and waiting to be filled, you'll probably be eager to get started ... so go for it!!

    As the itinerary [above] shows, I do have plenty more ideas and inspiration to share regarding sourcing supplies and ways to add interest to your collage pages but if you're all set to begin - don't hold back just make a start ... and see where you go!

    From now on I'll be sharing lots more finished pages from my book [I didn't take any 'in progress' shots] so it'll be more of a dose of eye-candy than any strict 'tutorial' or step-by-step.

    But, if you do want to hang fire, or you just haven't had chance to prepare your supplies yet, then by all means take it slowly, enjoying the scenery alongside me, before making a start on your own ...
    There's plenty of fresh content down the track ... so please bear with me while I get it all written up!

    Julie :-)

    p.s: if you're finding anything in the series useful then please consider sharing it with like minded creative via whatever method you share things [Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest ... speaking ... semaphore...]. Thank you in advance!