Which came first? The Chicken or the Little?

I don’t think I ever read that book actually; it came to mind here because these chickens are, well, little! But the answer to the question in this case is ‘chicken’. I was browsing Pinterest yesterday and came across a few different examples of chickens made with this kind of shape, and they really appealed. I wondered how I could do something similar with my supplies – I really wanted the cute little flip of a tail and hand cutting was not going to work for me. Then I thought of using my Spellbinders teacup shaped die, and that possibly making a partial cut might work. But the die is pretty small, and therefore dictates the size of the chicken. So the chicken came before the ‘little‘.

chicken-pair

In case you are tempted to do something similar, here is a picture of how I positioned the die on a top-folded piece of card. I used thinnish cardstock so I could cut through both front and back at the same time.

chicken-construction

See how the teacup lip will create the tail on the right hand side? Magic. Once I had cut that shape, I then cut the base straight, parallel to the top edge so the chicken could stand square, also removing the part that was the cup base. The other (ahem) body parts are two different sized heart dies (I used dies because I have them, but punches or confident hand cutting would work fine) and a pointed sliver of card. One heart for a wing, one at a jaunty angle for the cresty bit on the head and then a mash up of a section cut from a heart shape, attached to the pointed sliver to make the beak and wattle. A punched circle for an eye (I am not pushing my previous post’s luck with a second attempt at an eyeball) and my chickens are ready to rock and roll.

Classy Chick is made with Anna Griffin card:

classy-chick

Hippy Chick is made with WRMK papers:

hippy-chick

A close-up of the Frankenstein’s monster type head:

chicken-detail

Apologies Chicken Grandma, for any liberties I may have taken with chicken anatomy. I am no expert, but these little cluckers do make me smile!

 

 

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Christmas Countdown

Everyone beginning to feel a little bit festive? Heard your first Christmas songs on the radio? Starting to think about how on earth you will serve the sprouts in the hope of making them palatable this year? Or have you already got all your gifts wrapped, cards written and posted and been on a diet of mince pies and eggnog for a week?

When I looked out onto the street today, approximately mid-morning, for a moment I thought that maybe the neighbourhood had been evacuated for a gas leak and that somehow we had missed the warning. The road, normally nose-to-tail parked, was totally empty. Not one single car in sight. I sniffed. No gas. But perhaps a whiff of credit card meltdown? Everyone was out shopping! It made me realise I need to get a wriggle on.

So far, I have made some cards, experimented with some ornaments and that is it. No decorations up, gifts bought or anything. We usually have the tree up in the first few days of December. Partly because my sister’s birthday is early in the month and as kids it became a tradition to have the decorations in place by then, and I just carried it on in my own home. Also, partly, because I used to spend a whole weekend putting up elaborate garlands, lights and an enormous tree. If you go to all that effort you don’t want to spend the following weekend taking it all down again. You want to get a few weeks’ worth of twinkle for your exertions!

I don’t invest so much time any more – as long as there are plenty of fairy lights and some sparkle I am good. I really used to object to the amount of time it takes to dismantle and pack everything away!

Anyhoo, today as I was sorting through some boxes I came across a few cards I made last year, but didn’t use. They are a more traditional style, using Anna Griffin products. I know I have said it before, but I do love Anna Griffin style. Very classic, very classy.

ag-red-hollyag-reindeer-bowag-holly-with-script

These were all simple to make. The shapes are already cut out and layered for dimension, you just decide how you want to put them together. The kits usually come with inspiration sheets too. I have to say I cannot remember whether all these combinations are my own, or whether I recreated some of the examples. What I would say is that if anyone is thinking of trying their hand at card making, kits like these, with sentiments, 3d elements and coordinating papers and ribbon are a great way to start and build up your confidence. Lots of different companies offer them, and for all occasions.

These will definitely get used this year!

 

Put that reindeer down!

It’s official. I am obsessed with reindeer imagery. I had a lightbulb moment of realisation recently. You know the kind of thing, when you look at your wardrobe and suddenly notice that almost everything is black, or white, or pink (insert your colour here). So many of the cards I have made for Christmas this year feature reindeer in one form or another. And the thing is, I have more reindeer stuff I haven’t even used! Maybe there is a term for this condition. For my dignity and self-respect I hope it isn’t simply ‘fruit loop’.

Anyhow, just a quick post today as I am still feeling a bit queasy. Luckily you can’t catch this sort of virus online. So, another reindeer card. Sorry! Hope there are no reindeer-phobics out there. This card isn’t actually radioactive as the look would suggest. Just silver, with winter sun catching on it. I quite like the incandescent look though!

reindeer-header-1

This was made using a Die’sire header die that I either bought last year or was maybe a freebie with a magazine, I can’t actually remember which. I can’t find the packaging and I am not sure if it is still available, but I think they do something similar anyway. I also used the Crafter’s Companion Elegant Snowfall embossing folder, plus Marianne reindeer and Anna Griffin Joy dies, again from old stash.

 

Giving, and Thanks.

Last night we had another power cut, blacking out most of the evening. Initially I was grouchy. I hadn’t yet cooked dinner and having been a bit peaky for a few days I had a lot of blog catching up to do. Then I got a grip. We were safe, warm (as long as we stayed in the one room), and a supper of cheese and biscuits would often be a guilty pleasure anyway. The situation was hardly dire or dramatic. Having some of your creature comforts taken away for a few hours does sometimes give you a bit of a reality check and remind us how lucky we are to have a home at all.

So, I have a story to share. I also tell this story every time I listen to someone complaining about people living on the streets.

In the UK in the 1980s there were a lot of visible homeless people, or beggars (there is a difference, one does not necessarily mean the other) on the streets in central London. Those years were so difficult for so many, and so lucrative for a small minority. I was OK. I was in my first job, with a decent starter salary and most of my income was at my own disposal. Not exactly a ‘Have’, but lucky enough not to be a ‘Have not’.

Newspapers and TV would often comment on the numbers of homeless, some sympathetically and some not. There were warnings that you should not give money, that it was a trick to steal your purse, or that some people were ’professional’ beggars and went home to a nice cosy house at the end of a lucrative day. Many also said that you were being made a fool of if you gave anything.

I found it hard to accept that all these people were con artists. Another line taken was that they deliberately chose to be homeless. Maybe some did, maybe some preferred this way of life, but I couldn’t believe that was the case for all. You had to consider that if they had made the choice to run away, or live on the streets, what awful things happened at home to make this the better option? Maybe this was not intended, but things had simply not worked out and there was no way back?

Anyway, whatever had happened to someone, however they had gotten there, I (and of course thousands of others) could not simply walk by every day and ignore a person on a pavement. I made a decision that I didn’t care if I was being ‘conned’, or made a fool of by some: that would be their problem, not mine. I didn’t give money to everyone I saw, but used to give a decent amount of money, so a few pounds, not pennies, to some, hoping it meant they could definitely eat that day.

It was Christmas Eve, and we finished work around lunchtime. As was traditional, a visit to the pub was in order for a couple of white wine and tonics (really, not sure I would like that now!!) and then a few of us headed to London’s Oxford Street for some last minute shopping. It was cold, getting a bit dark, there was festive music coming from almost every shop and a sea of Christmas lights. The pavements were thick with shoppers and sightseers, making it difficult to progress, or even just keep track of your friends.

But someone caught my eye. She was a young woman holding a notice. The notice was brief, and I have to be honest and say that now I forget the exact details, but I think it just said she and her small family had been recently made homeless, and asked for any spare change. She was not confronting anyone, not even speaking, just standing quietly. I made a quick decision that I wanted to do something nice that afternoon. My purse was full of cash so I went up, tucked a £20 note into her hand and walked on as she was saying thank you. Now in those times, this amount of money would easily buy enough food for a week. Some of my work colleagues told me I was stupid, that she had probably been given many times that amount of money already, I was lucky my purse hadn’t been stolen etc etc. We carried on up towards Selfridges, with them still telling me I was daft.

And then the worst thing happened. She started to follow me. Someone I was with saw her dodging through the throngs of shoppers “oh look, she’s after you!” Stupidly, we sped up. Now I could hear her calling out ‘Miss, Miss, wait!’. There was a comedy chase on for a few moments and then she caught up with me. I honestly don’t know what I expected to happen next. For sure I didn’t think I would be mugged as all the dire warnings would have me fretting was likely to happen, because she just didn’t seem like that kind of person.

But I was definitely not expecting to hear “this is a lot of money. Are you sure you meant to give me this much?”

I told her I had meant to, and she seemed a bit bemused, or surprised maybe. She thanked me again, quietly. I hope we wished each other a Merry Christmas, but you know, this is not the Hallmark Channel so I cannot be certain. But I remember this woman every year, and I always hope she is OK, that things worked out for her. I hope she had a good Christmas.

To me, I actually don’t care if she raked in ££££s that day, but I really don’t think she did. If she was doing well enough standing where she was, and was unscrupulous enough to ask for money when she had no genuine need, why bother to chase me? No. She was a decent and honest person, that for some reason was in a bad situation and had no other options. I think I got more from the encounter than she did, to be honest.

So this is my ‘giving, and thanks’ story. Happy Thanksgiving to all those that celebrate the holiday.

Oh, and whilst we were in semi darkness last night I managed to make a card.

blue-merry

Supplies: Tonic Rococo Build a Wreath dies; Anna Griffin ‘merry’ die; The Works for the smaller sprig die (it doesn’t seem to have a name)

 

3D Thursday: Gilty pleasures

I have been playing with the Christmas ornament ‘blanks’ my sister made again. I previously posted a WIP, which I think I may have now ruined. More of that in another post perhaps. However, this is bauble number two. Just to explain I will be freely switching from using ‘bauble’ to ‘ornament’ and back again, partially so I make sense to the majority of those I know read my blog. Also, whilst a big fan of the English language and a stalwart supporter of using a wide vocabulary, I HATE the word bauble. It sounds vaguely anatomical, like an appendage or a minor organ, maybe something that is prone to swelling and bursting, akin to the appendix. Got an attack of bauble bursitis. Ouch!

Anyway, enough of the inside of my head for now. Here we have ornament number two. I started off by covering it with IndigoBlu gilding flakes in Winter Dawn. Can I say that this is not an endeavour which should be undertaken lightly. There was A LOT of mess, and most of it was stuck to me. I tried to keep one hand ‘clean’ and one hand sticky but it was just not possible. By the time the whole bauble was covered, at least 40% of the surface of my hands was too. Then the cat came along and somehow got a large gilding flake on his nose. Some comedy hissing and ‘pffing’ ensued. Him, not me. Obviously I did not want him to ingest it. I was pretty sure the manufacturers would not have thought it necessary to include any details about whether it was safe for cats to eat. In all fairness, they should not be expected to! So I attempted a pre-emptive snatch and grab (still with my heavily gilded fingers), which of course Riley (cat in residence) eluded. But I couldn’t assume the large flake was not stuck to him – the state of my own paws were evidence this was a definite possibility. So, the chase was on.

Anyone own a cat? Anyone know that a lot of them don’t like tin foil (maybe called kitchen or baking foil too)? Yep, Riley is one of them. I always thought it was the noise the foil made but, seeing me approaching with hands that have suddenly become reflective from all the silver gilding flakes and glue (believe me, it is good glue ‘cos everything stuck fast), well he was either genuinely freaked or just decided it was a good opportunity for a game. After haring up and down stairs chasing him a few times I was satisfied that he was a gilding flake-free zone. I, however, had added a couple of interesting hand prints to the banisters. Oh joy, I thought.

Back to the bauble. The reason I was all glued up was mostly because I was trying to cover a round object; so, holding it, applying the glue to an area and then turning it meant I just. Got. Sticky. I could have done smaller areas at a time, but I was rushing; and maybe latex gloves might have been sensible, but hey, we learn by our mistakes. It was user error, not the fault of the product. You can’t blame a good glue for being good! Once the ornament was all flaked up I just went in with the sponge and gave it a buffing to remove the loose or partially stuck flakes. This is when you can really see the results of your efforts. So, the orb was now covered and the next stage had been inspired by my thoughts on the handprint on the banisters, which in a way was serendipity, or payback, whichever way your mind works. I had an Anna Griffin ’joy’ die which I dug out, cut from gold card and then covered in Martha Stewart Copper glitter, to match the hanging loop. If anyone is wondering ‘why gold card?‘, the answer is that I don’t have any copper coloured, and if you want a coloured glitter to show up really well, stick it onto something which is as close a colour match as you can get. If you put it on white it just doesn’t pop in the same way and black can change the colour quite radically. I tied two fairly extravagant bows of double-faced satin ribbon, and glued them to the top of the ornament so it looks nice from both sides. Then added the copper sparkly ’joy’ and job done.

joy-bauble-1

Photo taking was a bit of an adventure. It is really not easy to do a bauble justice if you don’t have a tree to hang it on! I held it in the sunlight (I know, sunlight in the UK in November. Put it in your diary!) to show how sparkly the copper glitter is.

I also wanted to hang it though, so rigged up a makeshift hook from a silver pipe cleaner, pegged some black card to the curtain and hoped for the best. Here is the ‘warts and all’ zoomed out shot!

joy-bauble-photo-booth

I bought these gilding flakes quite some time ago now and I haven’t used them nearly enough. You can use stamps with the Flitterglu or like I did here, cover a whole area. The tubs of flakes are in single colours or several different colour combinations, some warm coppers, rose and gold and some cool greens and silver with slivers of gold or copper too. All are luscious. Please excuse me, I gotta go gild something. Where are the gloves?

 

 

Card wrestling: a new sport

Ever had to wrestle a card into submission?

This has been one of ‘those’ projects. Theoretically whilst not being an easy victory, as it was familiar ground to some extent, or to keep the analogy going, an opponent I had fought before, it should not have been quite such an epic contest. I am still not sure if I have won on points or not.

Whilst browsing Pinterest I came across this card using Altenew Poinsettia and Pine stamps, which I have.

Thinking of you - Altenew Blog:

It also reminded me of a card I made either last Christmas or the one before, using Anna Griffin dies and embossing folders, plus a couple of Tattered Lace leaves as fillers. This is what it looked like (sorry about the photo!):

ag-gold-holly

So the style was already familiar, I was just going to use different products. Now anyone who follows my babbling may remember that I cannot colour. To. Save. The. World. Seriously. If the Martians pitch up and the deal is a bit like Hunger Games, but a nice piece of artwork will send them away happy, just hope they don’t pick me in the colouring lottery. Otherwise, well, it’s been nice knowing you all.

But, I can fill in a few berries with red pen, without hopefully affronting the eyes of those who can colour brilliantly, right? And maybe at a stretch just shade in the mistletoe leaves with a bit of green, perhaps? They are pretty tiny, so what can go wrong?

Here’s the list:

The gold ink wouldn’t stamp too well.

The gold glitter embossing powder therefore didn’t work brilliantly either.

I switched to gold detail powder. I sneezed unexpectedly whilst holding the tiny open container and it went everywhere.

Back to glitter powder then.

I stamped the mistletoe over and over. Dandy.

Alcohol markers – nah. All went too blurry as I didn’t have the right shades of green.

Watercolour pencils? Couldn’t find them. That’s how often they get used.

I settled for a squidge of the same ink colour mixed with water and sloshed on in what I sincerely hope is an artistic, informal way. AKA a chimp’s mum would be happy to use it as fridge art.

By now I was eyeing the holly leaves with suspicion. I had learnt lessons. Just a stamped outline then. Fine. Although I couldn’t help but think they looked like the footprint of either a dinosaur or a duck. Maybe I had been playing with the alcohol pens too long.

Fir sprigs next. These went well. Hurrah!

Now for the greeting. I considered black, or red, but then plumped for gold. Another mistake, as I had forgotten the detail gold powder disaster of earlier, and the small words here work best with detail powder. There was, I confess, an undignified scramble to rescue enough of the scattered powder to emboss ONCE and once only. No pressure then. But it went ok-ish.

an-pine-and-poinsettia-detail

Assembly time! I chose a satin finish base card that I have had for ages. Now I know why it has remained unused. The card is beautiful, no question, but it is a magnet for any stray speck of glitter or embossing powder. I gave up polishing it and decided they were now design features.

Also, the card refuses to fold closed very well, and you can’t use a bone folder or it will mark the satin finish. Super!

Two falls and a submission.

an-pine-and-poinsettia-1

I feel I should add a disclaimer here: I know nothing about wrestling. I might have got things mixed up with boxing in places as I am drawing on memories of Saturday TV as a kid. Sorry if I have been irreverent with anyone’s favourite sport!

Supplies: Altenew Poinsettia and Pine stamps and dies, Altenew Lyrical stamps for the greeting and Altenew Green Fields ink set

 

Covered with spots, and confusion

I have something I need to get off my chest. They say confession is good for the soul. So, here goes.

My lovely, supportive sister had to build this site for me. She kept telling me I should do a blog and got all the usual vacillation and dithering in reply. Then one day she just rang me and said it was done and talked me through how to do my first post. Actually she got me into card making as well. Apparently she saw how long I take to wrap a present (30 minutes is fine!) and decided I needed a creative outlet.

There is a chance I might have got around to starting a blog myself, at some point, but it was about as likely as Johnson, Cameron and Gove going out together tonight for a curry. Or many a continental breakfast?!

Everything since has been all my own mistakes work. I think my sister (with amazing tecchie skills) has deliberately left me to find it out for myself – she knows me too well!! I have been let loose to do what damage I may since March of this year. Yep, four whole months. When I tell you my confession, bear this time period in mind. It only makes it worse.

(Big intake of breath) So, fellow WordPressers, you know the ‘manage your notifications’ button in the top right had corner of your screen? The one with the little red spot? Well this week, yes, yes THIS WEEK, I actually clicked on it to see what it did. I believe I mentioned in a previous post that I am not a random button pusher by nature, so some pluck was called for. No guts, no glory, right? Then I saw what I had been missing. Majorly mortified at my own ignorance I explored further. ‘This is marvellous’ I thought. ‘This will save me replying to everyone through my email, or going back to their site, and save me going back into my site to ‘like’ and so on‘, because that is what I had been doing. Nuts, I know.

Sadly though my happiness was a little premature. The same day as I discovered it I managed to delete at least one lovely comment, and I have nearly done it again since! I won’t bore you with the details, my keyboard is doing strange things at times which does not help (doubling up on letters, adding loads of spaces when I haven’t touched the space bar etc), but I’ll just have to try and work it through so it doesn’t happen again.

Now the case for the defence. I work for the NHS, and in our appointment and patient records software we have a silent panic button we can click on, providing we can reach it whilst being strangled or punched. It is a little red button in the top right hand of the screen. See where I am going here? Hit that button at work and everyone in the building descends on you, like the stretcher-bearing vultures at the football match in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. They then troop back disappointedly for a false alarm (which it almost always is, by the way). So I had some natural reluctance to overcome. It looked like it was saying ‘don’t touch this’! The completely hilarious thing is, where I work, my IT skills are considered pretty darn good! Are you allowed to laugh at me? Hell, yes!

Anyway, today I also managed to change my profile picture! I just changed it to a card I had made, rather than those mosaic shapes you get given. Although on some sites I was a pink one-eyed monster which I was quite fond of! So that was more button pushing, which I think is why I was drawn to making a couple more quick cards with spots. Black and cream is a classic combination and suits clean and simple designs well. These both took hardly any time to make.

AG cream and black duoAG cream and black bannerAG cream and black smallAG cream and black banner detailAG cream and black small detail

Supplies: Anna Griffin cake and sentiment stamps; Creative Expressions card in ‘milk’; Altenew ink in Jet Black; spotted paper I made myself using Serif CraftArtist; ribbon and pearls from stash

Quick, quick, slow…

One super-quick card and one which should have been quick, but….

I am running a bit low on general birthday cards, so wanted to rustle up a few quick ones. And, if I can fool people into thinking they took ages, so much the better. I know you can’t fool a crafter, but most people I know would struggle to define ‘double sided tape’ and would think a bone folder would most likely be an implement of torture or medieval medicine, probably to be used alongside some leeches. So, with a bit of smoke and mirrors I might get away with it.

Super-quick one first. This is Anna Griffin cardstock, already cut to size. I matched the cream colour in the pattern as best I could from my stash and the blue from my inks. I used a Tattered Lace Charisma Frames 1 die, which I ran through an Anna Griffin embossing folder, stamped the sentiment onto the same cream card and cut out with a Spellbinders oval. Some 3d foam and a ribbon flourish to finish. Done in minutes.

AG cream and blue

Now for the one I had to rugby tackle into submission. The only reason it was a bit trickier was getting a good cut on the die. This is a large floral panel from Tattered Lace (I have lost the packaging so cannot tell you the name). Using my Big Shot and with all the tabs on the Universal Platform closed, it felt just too tight to get it through the machine safely. But running it through with one tab open was no good either as it just didn’t cut at all. I ended up with a sort of princess and the pea pile of card underneath the die and cutting plates to act like a booster seat. I had to run it through the machine many, many times, shim certain spots and even then, when it looked ok I realised it hadn’t cut everywhere so ended up attacking it with the craft knife to finish it off. As in, complete it, not hack it to bits in a fit of pique. Although it did cross my mind.

Once cut to satisfaction, it is just a case of trimming round where the flowers join to get the line you want at the bottom. Leave the rest intact until you stick it on to your base card, overlapping the sides and top. Then trim. The stamped greeting is Anna Griffin again, and the die is the same set of Charisma Frames used for the first card. I chose an off-white shade for the card base as pure white looked a little too harsh, and because I have an enormous roll of ivory ribbon!

TL floral panel silverTL floral panel silver detail

I see duck feet in the petals of the flower on the right, no?

 

Kinda Anna?

The UK is reeling from the fallout of the Brexit referendum. I’m giving nothing away about how I voted, but reactions of other people to the result, and to each other, have been interesting. It seems the ’out’ verdict was a surprise to pretty much everyone I spoke to; a few who told me they had voted to exit the EU said they hadn’t thought the (small) majority would vote the same way. I think some were perhaps ruing their choice. Others were slightly stunned that it had happened, but were looking ahead with something like interest or curiosity. At work apparently an ‘in’ voter had to be calmed down after a furious tirade aimed at work colleagues who had ticked the ‘out’ box! Who knows what will happen. There is a strange feel to today.

Anyway, enough of the news, and back to the papers (!).  I’m with my Anna Griffin stash again. I really want to use a lot of it up, not because I don’t like it any more, far from it, but because otherwise it will get battered and tattered, faded and dog-eared. Not a fair way to treat such gorgeousness. Or, indeed, such financial investment!

This card took me a while, just because I could not make up my mind about what to put where. Same dilemma as I had voting yesterday! I think it is perhaps a bit closer to the Anna Griffin look I love?

AG brown cream rose card

I haven’t used a peel-off border sticker in ages. When I first started out card making they were practically compulsory! A long time ago I totally fell out of love with them alongside so many other crafters, but every now and again they are just exactly what I want. This card is old school, so old school equipment is fine! Everything else except the ribbon and Brilliance Pearlescent Olive ink for the sentiment is from my Anna Griffin stash, including the punch to make the border strips.

AG cream borwn rose card detail

Searching for my Inner Anna

Don’t worry, this is not a call to self-examine with a mirror and a yoga position. I mean Anna Griffin, supreme mistress of all gorgeousness. I have bought tons of Anna Griffin products over the years – mostly stamps and papers but a few other goodies too – and I regularly get them out, look at them, shove them around the table a bit and then give up and put them away again. I think it is because I know that whatever I try to make will not come up to the ideal I have in my head. I simply cannot achieve those ‘fully loaded’ cards. I wish I could, but there it is.

However a recent change of mindset has led me to give it another go. I am not going to try and copy Anna’s style; I realise my past failings at this have led to the products not being used, and they are way too lovely for that. It is a crime against paper and ink! So I am just going to use them my way and see what happens.

AG Black grey pink card

This is the first effort. I can’t believe I produced yet another black and pink card! I swear, I don’t even realise I am doing it! Only halfway through did I look down and think ‘oh phooey’ (that wasn’t the word, obviously!!) ‘I’ve done it again!’ So I might have to banish some of the goodies back to the drawers again, to give other colours a look-in.

AG Black grey pink card detail

Because I have had all these products for years, I cannot tell you the names I’m afraid, but the stamp and patterned papers are by Anna Griffin. The sentiment might be from a Chalkboard range, but I can’t be certain! The flower was also made ages ago. Because it is made with paper clay and takes several hours to dry I just have a bag of them all made up in case I have a paper-clay-flower-related emergency situation. The mould was from Tonic.