The kindness and genius of Cobs

Some of you may remember that I mentioned a while ago that my mother had broken her ankle. Cobs, from The Cobweborium Emporium made her a get well card. You might have already seen the card on Cobs’ blog, but if not, or if you are not familiar with Cobs, go see her as she is amazingly creative but also interesting and very funny! Now I wanted to share the card here too (and I did check with Cobs that it was ok), but unfortunately the photos I took at the time were rubbish, so I had to wait until I could take some better ones.

This card has everything you could wish for. It uses gorgeous papers, it is feminine and pretty, it has humour and wit but most of all it is beautifully made and made by someone with a beautiful heart.

Prepare to admire, and to snigger!

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Isn’t it genius? We all had a good laugh, as well as drooling over the fabulous handiwork. So thanks Cobs, for your kindness and your creativity, and for being so bloomin’ lovely!

 

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Still Stencilling….

Well, it was just sitting there, winking at me…

Another card made with my Altenew Halftone stencil. This time I have opted for a softer look, so just used two shades of grey ink (Evening Gray and Morning Frost) in a fuzzy edged (technical term!) vague circle. I then stamped my flowers and leaves in a darker grey (Moon Rock), fussy cut them and spent a small eternity faffing about with their placement. Ho hum. Some of the elements were popped up on 3D foam. Oh and UK shoppers, I found a great bargain pack of large foam squares and a big roll of foam in Poundland last week. Please forgive my ignorance but I honestly did not know that everything in that shop costs £1.00!! I kept looking for prices….But anyway, it seems like a good deal to me so thought I would mention it.

Once I had the card assembled I decided I wanted to add the tiny text greeting. I wasn’t brave enough to stamp directly onto the more-or-less finished project so chickened out. Stupid, really, because if it had gone wrong I could still have covered it over and ended up with the same card as I have here. Duh!

A few little blobs of Nuvo Jewel drops and we are good to go. I like the sentiment because it can cover a lot of occasions, either happy or not so much.

adore you cardadore you card detail

Supplies: Altenew Halftone Stencil, Adore You stamps and Warm Gray mini ink cubes set; Tonic Nuvo Jewel Drops in Pale Periwinkle; Hunkydory Adorable Scorable card (the pinkish lilac)

Smugglers, baking and boot camp

TiVo, get your act together!

I have to get this one off my chest. Has anyone else ever felt insulted by the ‘suggested recordings’ choices of their TiVo box? The TiVo has only been installed for a couple of years, and the instruction manual was never read because the gizmo worked and there are many more fun things to do with an afternoon. So the fact that there were suggested recordings at all, was something of a surprise. At first I thought it rather sweet that the blinking box in the corner would think of you throughout the day, get to know you a little and consider what TV treats you might like to enjoy later. Even going ‘off piste’ a bit and perhaps selecting something you may not have considered for yourself, but you end up loving. Similar to being given olives to try again, because although you claim not to like them, you like salty things, for example.

In the ‘getting to know you’ stage the suggested programmes were baffling. But early on in a relationship you can easily get the wrong signals, or send mixed messages. So, it proffered the local news programmes, and the BBC News, and the ITV News…. Well, news is fine, but watching it back at a later date is generally not so interesting. Really I have no idea how these things work but figured it would take time to somehow recognise what was watched and build a kind of profile. But then the random selections started to kick in. I can‘t remember specifically what, but they were not impressive.

Why wasn’t it trying harder? Why was it recording shows about border control and smugglers when such programmes were never actually watched, and should surely never be part of the viewing profile?

Then the ‘thumbs’ were discovered. Yes, perhaps this should have happened earlier. For anyone who doesn’t know, you have a green ‘thumbs up’ to say you like a programme, and a red ‘thumbs down’ to show your displeasure. You can hit the button up to three times, presumably to indicate your strength of feeling either way. Now, I get why up to three thumbs-worth of happy viewing might be useful information: I hope that if there was a recording clash between a one-thumb and a three-thumb the lovely considerate box would prioritise. This is an optimistic theory, not yet tested.

But why bother giving any more than one thumb of disapproval? Surely the TiVo is not going to think ‘Hmmn, well, there is very little of interest at the moment, so I’ll just record a single-thumbs-down programme. Can’t sit here doing nothing can I?’ Well, yes actually, you can. If you can’t record something good, don’t bother recording anything at all…

In an effort to train the beast, every time the TiVo is caught red handed i.e. recording something undesirable, the red thumb is pushed three times, still with little idea of why three is necessary but we are sending a clear message here. Same if it does good, although sadly this is less often. So now the on-screen TV guide has more up and down thumbs than a busy day at the Colosseum.

Today, late morning, the box pinged up a message to say it wanted to switch from the current programme (you know, the one you have actually chosen to watch) and record Mary Berry doing some cooking instead. Interesting. Not the choice of programme – for once it was a good choice – but that meant it was sneakily off recording another couple of shows, because it can only record three things if you are watching one of them. On further investigation these turned out to be Police Interceptors (or something like that) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Excuse me?? I honestly don’t think ANY of the viewing history would suggest these as likely to meet with approval. Knowledge of the Ninjas is sketchy, but a programme about the real Donatello or Raphael would stand a better chance!

I have just deleted more suggestions of yet more border control programmes, ones about sheriffs and debt collectors, gadget reviews, and a marriage boot camp, all of which would never have been watched. This feels more like a marriage of convenience, or of one where apathy has taken over. Like those who shop for their spouse’s or partner’s gift in the last hour on Christmas Eve. Just get something, no matter what. Who cares if it is the wrong size and wrong colour? It’s the thought that counts right?

Wrong, Mr TiVo, wrong.

Neither of these cards are for you. We are not friends and you are not awesome.

halftone and super scripthalftone super script 2

I have used current stash from Altenew plus a guilty purchase of a stencil. It cost under a fiver so I don’t feel too bad. Sometimes you just need something new to freshen things up a bit. These cards are very similar to one of the marketing shots, but it is kind of an obvious thing to do and I was just itching to use it! I blended three different colours of Altenew inks onto my base card, then stamped and die cut the Super Script words and cut out the Label Love sentiment. I love the look of the spotty symmetry!

 

Mother’s Day Cards

Either late, or early depending on where you live!

These are the cards I made for Mother’s Day this year. I waited until after the day as my mother reads all my blog posts. She also still watches to make sure I cross the road safely, and yet this is something I have been accomplishing without incident for years…

For the first I used some Tonic dies I have had for a long time. They are very adaptable as you can cut the hearts out completely or leave them in the card. I decided to make a kind of layered window effect, so the top layer has the larger heart cut into it and the second layer has the smaller sentiment. It doesn’t show up too successfully in my pictures, I’m afraid! As I was going for an all cream card I thought I needed a bit more interested so rummaged through my embossing folder trough and selected one from Sizzix that has some pretty details but is not an all-over pattern. Sometimes a little bit of blank space is good. I tied the ribbon knot and thought I had finished, but then changed my mind and added the trail of pearls too.

mothers day heartmothers day heart 2mothers day floral muse

The second card is made with Dovecraft Floral Muse papers. I know I have used these a few times now, but they are my current ’go to’ when really pretty and feminine patterns are required. I was inspired by something I saw on Pinterest, but I changed it up a bit and added several details of my own. The various layers of papers were edged with Vintage Photo Distress Ink to give them some definition. Butterflies were fussy cut from one of the pages in the pad and then I spent ages trying to find a good match in my ink colours for the sentiment. Many a green was tried and tossed and finally I went with Brilliance Pearlescent Beige. A few more pearls again (well, why not?) and I was happy. Oh, and another doily from my doily mountain has been used….

Supplies: Dovecraft Floral Muse paper pad; Clearly Besotted Mini Banner stamp and die; Tonic On Mother’s Day Affections Insert die set; Sizzix embossing folder (it has no name on it!); string pearls from The Ribbon Room and individual pearls from Dreamees

 

Countdown to Easter: make up your own joke about bunnies multiplying…

Firstly, an apology. I have been rather behind on replying to comments and checking out what everyone else is up to. I am, once again, having struggles with technology. From last weekend the internet has been on some kind of random strike action. It works fine for a while, then fades away. Comes back, fades away. Like some Gothic novel heroine, suffering an attack of the vapours.

I am also struggling with ongoing Reader and Notifications issues and then, because things always come in threes, I woke up with a swollen and painful eye, streaming nose and a banging headache. Peachy. I couldn’t see well enough to use WordPress for anything more than a few minutes at a time, nor could I get stuck in to anything creative. It has now improved significantly and I think it may have been an allergic reaction or a foreign body of some sort causing irritation (I have summarised enough medical records in my time to self-diagnose pretty accurately!!). I suspect it may have been glitter….

So, yesterday I was finally at least able to rustle up a little something, whilst squinting. This first card is made with Lawn Fawn Hoppy Easter stamps and dies and some Martha Stewart papers I have had for years. The tag die is from a set of three that was a magazine cover gift years ago and the cute row of crosses are made with Die-namics Basic Stitched Lines.

hoppy easter tag trio

The second card is more of a Heinz 57. I used the same Lawn Fawn bunny, scraps of the Martha Stewart papers and the free tag die again. The Easter egg and small bunny dies are another free gift, from Docrafts Creativity magazine recently. The embossing folder is from Teresa Collins and I think it is called Modern Stripe. I am on a mission to use up some of my doily mountain too. Gonna take a while…

hoppy easter bunny and eggs

Now have you every worried about your brain?! About some vital bit of rational thought just not occurring? Here is my recent example giving cause for concern. Feel free to laugh at or despair of me.

I bought this box of chicks on a whim a couple of weeks ago, because they were quirky and cheep (sorry) and I thought I might use them for photo props.

easter cards 012

At the point of purchase I wondered why they all sported Mohican haircuts. But then they do have specs and ties too so I guess my brain concluded that clearly anything goes. Perhaps it was some character franchise of which I was unaware? Or just the latest ‘thing’, maybe? Like loom beads, deely boppers, hula hoops, yo-yos….

Anyway, they have been sitting in their box on my workdesk and every day I have looked at them and mentally shook my head at the Mohican bit. Yesterday I decided that I would open the box and try and give one a haircut, take him back to the yellow only. Don’t get me wrong, I have no objection to a Mohican, but not on my chicks, I think.

And of course, as soon as I uncovered them and took one out, I realised my mistake. But for two weeks my brain has been fooling me and unquestioningly substituting a random hairdo for a (vaguely) appropriate anatomical feature. NOT a good sign!

 

 

Countdown to Easter: bunnies, Martha Stewart and Chopin

No, this is not one of those ‘if you could invite anyone from history to a dinner party’ conversations. Last week, on a whim, I bought a bag of polystyrene bunnies from The Works. At £1 for six little hoppers (well three large, three small, actually) it seemed rude not to.

I have a thing about 3D objects covered in glitter. It has to be good glitter though, so the colour is important – not ‘unwell urine yellow’ masquerading as gold. Years ago I bought a set of Martha Stewart glitters. Actually I liked them so much I then bought a second set in case they were discontinued or there was a worldwide glitter shortage. Luckily glitter hoarding is not a crime. I still have two practically full packs because a little goes a long way, but they are the BEST colours so I regret nothing. No wait, I regret shoulder pads…

I also have a thing for book pages or sheet music used in decorative items. So, a perfect opportunity to indulge both. It is healthier than chocolate. Amazingly I have never been tempted to lick glitter. Or sheet music.

So, to bunny number one. I decided to cover him in torn strips of the sheet music. I actually don’t think I have ever done this before with a complicated shape, but I had 6 bunnies to play with and plenty more in the shop if it went wrong. I mixed pva glue and water in approximately the usual 2:1 ratio and added some mica powder to colour it. I partly spread glue thinly on the bunny, partly doused the sheet music strips and just covered him as best I could, working the paper in to the creases with a firm brush. For sections like the side of his face and ears I found it easier to then tear another piece approximately the right shape and glue it over the top. He was set aside to dry a bit, then given another coat of the pva/mica for an extra glossy finish.

Bunny number two was glitter time! Again I have never covered a polystyrene shape like this before. I actually used the same tub of pva and mica because I had mixed up far too much. I thought the colour might taint the glitter a bit but there was no problem. The only difficulty was choosing what glitter to use, but eventually I plumped for Kunzite, a lovely dusty pink. If you have never covered shapes like this, just use a really, really thin layer of glue. You can always touch up any bald patches afterwards but if you put too much on you end up with dripping or sliding glue, and your bunny will have wrinkles prematurely. Might end up looking more like an Easter rhino or one of those pop-up ads for miracle face creams.

Now, I kind of wanted to add a bit more decoration to my bunny couple, but I am also of a ‘less is more’ tendency, so minimal accessorising was preferred. I made a tiny little crown/tiara thingie for Rosa, which of course elevated her status to Princess, and in the end just a simple bow for Mr Noteworthy. A woman should never be upstaged by her consort.

noteworthy and rosa

 

I have a knitted FO!!

Had to type that title carefully…

Some of you may remember that last year, mostly from reading other blogs and drooling over the beautiful creations, I finally decided to pick up my knitting needles again. Well actually I had to buy a set, because I had given all of mine away in a random act of tidying up, but you know what I mean.

So far, I have started four projects, and finished one. Doesn’t sound too promising, does it? But, actually it is fine. Two of the unfinished ones (scarves) are almost completed, just a row or two to go and then working in the ends. I wish I had done that as I went along, but I just forgot.

The fourth project is one I have only just started – a blanket for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. I found out about the project from Kick Arse Crochet (what a great name!) a little while ago. Thanks to her mentioning it on her blog there will be a few blankets heading their way as my mother has already made two, a friend’s mother is mid-knit and I have bought enough cheap (they specify it needs to be acrylic) yarn to make maybe three. Battersea is a very worthwhile cause, although it would obviously be good if there was no need for it to exist because every animal had a loving home. I like to think that a dog will look so adorable on their nice new blanket that it might help get them a new family. Even if they just chew it to shreds, I don’t mind really! There is a downloadable pattern for the blanket and cat toys, plus a list of other items they can use here. Again, thanks to Beth at Kick Arse Crochet for her original posting of this.

Anyway, the finished object is not for me, but a gift for my mum, which is why I have actually completed it. Only a scarf, and a simple free pattern which I found on Ravelry, but I enjoyed making it. Good job too because I had to start it three times. Due to still not having mastered the art of tinking (I really need to watch those YouTube clips again), every time I made a mistake, I was stuffed. I think it is the ’yarn forward’ that throws me. I kept ending up with significantly less stitches than I should have. So I just gave up, unravelled it and started again! Third time lucky. Also I got a much neater (or less hole-y) cast on edge the third time – I remembered about doing it with your thumb instead of a knitting needle. I couldn’t actually remember how, though…After many fumbled attempts I got it. I guess knitting is nothing like riding a bicycle. I have since found out when I mentioned the ‘thumb method’ to my mother and sister that we each do it differently!

And, although I had ditched my needles, for some reason I kept a bag of this yarn. Probably because it is Rowan, wool and cotton mix, and cost a bit at the time. But now, I have a nice lightweight scarf, pretty much for free! And also another project in the queue as my sister would like one too…

 

 

 

Mind the Gap

If you have ever been on the London Underground you will have heard that warning as you get on and off the tube train. I can’t remember now if it is said at every station – I think it used to just be a few that had, for some reason, curved platforms, resulting in a mildly alarming space between the carriage and the platform edge. It was the way the warning was delivered that unnerved rather more. This stern voice, clearly enunciated, booming around the underground hall like some alien overlord. You could see that some tourists were taken by surprise.

But this is a different gap. I made this card for a family member to give to another family member – an aunt. The aunt loves tea, and small floral patterns. Because the card would be posted twice (from me, to them, to auntie) I needed it to be flat. How ridiculous is it that I can send several cards in one jiffy bag for 96p (Large Letter cost), but posting two small cards separately and First Class costs £1.28?? Nuts!

So anyway, flat is required. But I wanted it to be a bit different too, so decided to go for a gappy look. Granted that may not sound too appealing. I guess a career in advertising is not for me. What I mean is that the central motif holds the card together. It is very easy to do.

Grab (or make) a card blank and decide on where you want to position your chosen image on the card front.

Measure down from the top (if you are making a tent fold like me) to where you need to ‘meet’ the image and give yourself a bit of an overlap, of course. Cut the rest of the card front away.

Use this cut piece (or you could go for another colour) to make the bottom section. I went for a panel the same size as the top.

I layered other papers onto the panels, then just assembled the card. Lining up the bottom panel with the back of the card means you should be nice and straight and make sure you only use a little bit of glue or tape of course as you don’t want it showing or sticking the wrong bits!

I added an embossed panel inside to highlight the gappy look.

tea gap 3

 

This was made with an old Kraftyhands CD Vintage Chic Boutique. Sadly I think they are no longer in business.

 

April Showers

How to make something seemly simple take for EVER!

Now to look at this card, you might think it was the work of a few minutes. Stamp out the umbrellas, add a bit more stamping using the colours and the sentiment, grab a band of ribbon and Robert is your father’s brother. Hell, no.

april showers

For a start, the umbrella comes in separate bits. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. It is a feature of the stamp set that I really like, because there is room to play. So, I started my repeat pattern with the central umbrella, to make sure it was where I would want it. Handle first, then the canopy outline.

So far, so good. Now, each canopy, either spotted or striped, comes in 3 pieces. Again, I was happy with this because I wanted to mix it up a little, both with colour and pattern. I wasn’t confident I could stamp exactly in the right place 20 times and not fudge up though, so I decided to stamp then on scrap card and cut them out individually. Nobody say anything, OK?

Cutting curves accurately is not in my skill set. I had to re-do a few, but, eventually, I had a full cast of canopies, spotty and stripy, at my disposal. Hurrah! Assembly time!

Casual abandon is not in my skill set. Whatever arrangement I came up with, something offended me visually. Two blues too close together, yellow stripes too far apart… I decided that maybe it was because I didn’t have enough sections. Perhaps there was a basic maths principle I should use, to work out my pattern requirements?

Maths is not in my skill set. Pretty much the only thing I remember about maths is the Fibonnaci sequence and how to quickly tell if a number is divisible by 3. How often do either of those come in handy?! Unless I am trying to make small talk with two Italians whilst splitting our restaurant bill, not so much. I gave up on the maths idea. Back to winging it.

Winging it is not in my skill set. Rational thinking occasionally shows its face though. I gave up on the idea of mixing the colours and patterns and went for uniformity. So, a card which could have been relatively quick ended up taking ages. Just peachy…

Supplies: Clearly Besotted April Showers stamp set; Brilliance Pearlescent inks in Rocket Red, Sky blue and Sunflower Yellow; Memento Tuxedo Black ink; ribbon from The Ribbon Room

 

 

 

3D Thursday: Easter Pillow Boxes

Pillow boxes. An ‘in and out of fashion’ item, I think, for crafters. Actually I don’t know if they are in or out right now, but I do know I was for some reason possessed by all the devils of craft to make some this week.

I was also convinced that somewhere I had an one on an embossing board – crafters will know what I mean. A big slab of some science-y compound or resin or such, with grooves and channels to score the lines, to then be cut out.

A craft hunt! Hurrah! I NEVER do one of those, right?? So, donning crampons and grabbing belaying thingies I tackled the craft mountain. Like A-ha, I hunted high and low but could not find a scoring board. BUT, after a bit of pondering and some much needed Kendal Mint Cake I remembered an ancient purchase, back when the internet was in short trousers, of a bunch of Anna Griffin templates. Back to the north face! The templates had survived their spell in the wilderness and I could get going. Of course I could have downloaded one, or used my Cricut, but you know how it is when you get a bee in your bonnet. Oh, no, I have just reminded myself of the bridesmaid bonnets. On reflection I am quite surprised we weren’t attacked by a swarm of bees, actually, mistakenly thinking we were a good pollen source…

Anyhoo, back to the pillow boxes. I used quite a few things on these. The base is an old pad of Kanban card and the rabbit is from my Rabbit’s Tea Party digikit. The other bits and pieces are just from stash.

easter pillow box paireaster pillow box spottyeaster pillow box floral

I know the ribbon has fallen in a rather unfortunate place on this one – I only noticed after I had taken the photos!! I’ll go fix it…..