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.

 

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For when only a giraffe in a party hat will do…

I needed a couple of 16th birthday cards recently for a female relative. I have no idea what is ‘in’, or indeed ‘out’ of fashion, what is cool and what is hot. Funny that these last two can mean the same thing, isn’t it? Like fat chance and slim chance? I digress. Odd, that has never happened before. Ever. Really hard to type with my tongue in my cheek though…

So, back to the point. I didn’t want them to be childish, nor did I want them to be too ‘old’. A Goldilocks card, if you will. Much frowning followed. I may have developed another wrinkle. The things we do for art….oops, back to the tongue in cheek situation again…

Anyway, some miracle face cream later, I had a plan. One card would be contemporary (I hope!) and simple, spelling out the age in die cut letters. I used punchy contrasting colours and printed pattern for the letters to make it more interesting. Hopefully minimal is acceptable!

pink-sixteen

The second one was still giving me trouble, but I had used up all the face cream so couldn’t risk another wrinkle. Then, it came to me. On such an occasion, go to the mattresses, as they say in “The Godfather” and “You’ve Got Mail”. Time to break out the giraffe in the party hat. This is such a fun image from one of my Louise Tiler digital kits in Serif CraftArtist. I added a few extra gold dots to the background and drop shadow to the crittur and cake before printing. The banner is also from the same kit. I decided to cut a star from packaging acetate and added the ’16’ in peel offs (remember them? I have a sticky stack!). Hopefully quirky, or just plain crazy, is also acceptable.

giraffe-16giraffe-16-detail

Supplies: Louise Tiler Birthday Florals digikit for Serif CraftArtist; XCut Wedding Alphabet and Numbers dies

3D Thursday: calorie free cake!

Well maybe that is not true. Perhaps paper, glue, batteries and plastic do contain calories, but not the tasty, moreish kind. And my alternative title of ‘inedible cake’ sounds rather less enticing.

I like giving ‘alternative’ or unexpected birthday cards and that box is certainly ticked here. Pinterest is to blame again. I decided to make one of the cute little battery tea lights turned into a birthday cake. I had seen a few, with varying degrees of decoration. Mine are, of course, on the less decorated side. Partly from personal preference and partly because I don’t have much time for anything more.

There are no doubt plenty of tutorials out there, but I chose to ignore them and just go for my own version. Sometimes a quick ten minutes in Pinterest can morph into several lost hours! I took a favourite pad of papers (Craftwork Cards Heritage Rose) so I knew everything would go together, something always worth doing when time is short or a deadline looms. For the first tea light cake I simply covered the sides with spotty paper and die cut two scallop circles for the top and bottom. Then I punched a hole roughly in the centre of one and made some small snips outwards from the hole. This allows you to ease the circle over the light bulb, but obviously looks a bit messy so needs covering up again afterwards. Some punched flowers did the trick. I wanted the same scallop circle for the cake base, but you also have to be able to switch the bulb on, so I used a small oval die to cut a neat aperture. Perhaps those tutorials might have given me a better solution for this, but hey, it works! A simple box from the same paper range helps to present it nicely. If I had more time this box would have been a bit fancier for sure.

tea-light-cake-pink-and-box

tea-light-cake-pink

I also cooked up a second ‘cake’, even more quickly. This one was made with a Christmas purchase for the bargain price of £1 for 4 tea lights! They are already covered in a smoky quartz shade of glitter – yum! Basically I did the same thing but used a fancier and slightly larger scallop circle die for the base. Also because this light has little ‘feet’ I just stood it on the base scallop die cut. It would certainly be possible to fix it permanently to the ‘cake’, in the same way as the top layer really, but I think it is fine as it is.

tea-light-cake-glittered

So there we have it. Two cakes, no calories. I did think about naming them “shark infested” cakes actually. It’s the shape of the bulbs…..

 

How do you do it?

Blogwise, how do you roll?

How do you plan your posts? Do you schedule well in advance and have it all written and ready to go?

Do you have an outline plan, to which you add detail as you get close to posting?

Do you post on set days?

And, seeing as we are on the subject, do you set your posts to publish ahead of time?

Or, do you think, write, post as the mood takes you?

So, I’ll go first. That’s a given, right?

Generally, almost everything I post here is spontaneous, off the cuff, however you want to call it. I very rarely have any cards made in advance, or even planned, so if I want to post I have to make something in the evening after work, then the following day take a photo or two, think of a title, write the post and publish. Plus go have a look at what everyone else is doing (in fact I usually do this before posting myself). It can take a lot of time. Don’t get me wrong – I am not complaining. This is a voluntary undertaking and I am having a ball. I also love to visit other blogs and check in with my bloggy pals. It’s the whole flipping point of this after all! But I do wonder if I could do it better?

However, this is one post I did actually plan a bit in advance, mainly because I am really, really interested in knowing how everyone else goes about the task. If you are someone who has to ‘make first, post second‘, how do you do it? How do you make it work? I know some people post WIP, and if you garden, grow, draw, paint, knit, sew, crochet or stitch this makes absolute sense, because your projects can take weeks or months to complete. But if like me your end product is a relatively quick thing, but you also work, have a household, a social life etc etc, well I can‘t help thinking that I should be more organised. Or is the answer just to post less?

Sometimes I have an idea in advance, and then I can plan better, and write something (which I generally change radically anyway), but not often. Usually I sit down, and think hmmmnnn….for quite a while…..

Thing is, this is so against my nature! I am someone whose comfort zone is firmly in the ’be prepared’ department; I am the woman who sends emails to the boss explaining everything I have done and covering every possible scenario when I am away from work for a week. Flying by the seat of my pants would definitely require a sick bag. I have no idea why I am ok to abandon all my natural tendencies when it comes to blogging. Maybe it is just time pressure.

I would love to have nice posts, all neatly lined up and ready to go, like little glittery packages sitting, waiting to be picked up by virtual carrier pigeons. Maybe one day! In the meantime, here’s a quick card, and yes, I had to rustle it up before I could post this!!

cb-elliecb-ellie-detail

Supplies: Clearly Besotted Baby Shower and Mini Basic Banners stamps and dies; Lawn Fawn ink in Hippo

 

Mojo Doldrums, located 51° N, 0.1° W

I have made nothing, for days and days. In my previous post I said I was inhabiting the Mojo Doldrums (small group of islands populated by burnt-out crafters). Now it feels like the other inhabitants have called a meeting, decided I am some kind of evil spirit sucking the creativity from all of them, and voted to set me adrift in a small boat. Of course the boat is fabulous, fashioned from pipe cleaners and squeezy bottles, covered in glitter and with crochet sails and knitted bedlinen (crafters are kind, after all). I do have a tiny complaint about the practicality of the macramé water bottle though… So, becalmed in a toxic fog of crafter’s block I sat, and tried, but could do nothing. Not even an idea, never mind trying stuff and it going wrong. That would actually be progress, this week!

This evening, a tiny little glimmer. Just a simple card, combining digital content, dies and stamps. I used Serif CraftArtist and resized some of the various Louise Tiler ‘materials’ to make some close-patterned squares, then die cut balloons and gave them glittery cord strings (sorry, Myra, if you read this!). The ’friend’ Altenew stamp and die is one I made a while ago and didn’t use because I messed up the rest of the project. Like that never happens!

That’s all I have. Tonight I plan on drinking the sea water.

Pretty balloon bunch

 

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

When men make you hit the bottle….

By which I mean those times when you need a present for a chap. Maybe you don’t know them that well so their favourite wine/spirit is a safe choice, or perhaps they have so much ‘stuff’ they really don’t want any more, or just because they enjoy a tipple and it would be the gift they appreciate most. Better than socks. Unless you have lovingly hand knitted them of course, which elevates their present ranking to stratospheric. For most of us then, you buy them booze. But now you have to wrap it. Options are sometimes limited. Bottle bags, readily available, but often a bit too girlie. Then you have to store them, find them when you need them, do the ‘will it take the weight’ test…. Or you can make a sturdy box if you are that way inclined. Sometimes I am. But the cardstock required can be pricey, and it takes a bit of time to make. I don’t always have that time, and I have this thing that whilst wrapping should always be totally marvellous, you don’t want to hype the gift up so much with the bells and whistles that the actual present is a let-down. You don’t want the thrill of Baby Spice on the outside to only turn into the disappointment of Old Spice on the inside, if you see what I mean? You don’t want the box to look like it might have, say, 20 year old malt whisky when you have actually bought beaujolais nouveau. Or supermarket plonk.

Anyhoo, I thought I would make some bottle tags, in advance, ready to adorn any gift bottle required. These are the first two, made with Hunkydory Gentleman’s Journey. I don’t buy kits much any more. Nothing against them, I just don’t feel I do them justice. Others produce such stunning projects and my fingers won’t do the same. But with Gentleman’s Journey I loved the kit so much as soon as I saw it, I knew I would succumb, so I waited and bought it on sale. I haven’t made much with it so far – just a couple of cards – but I thought it would lend itself to bottle tags really well.

This is the first one I did. I’m not entirely happy with it, but then I tell myself it will just be round the neck of a bottle of wine or something and, well, get a grip basically! It is a strip of the Hunkydory printed /foiled card from the kit, cut to 6.5cm wide. This is a good width for a standard wine bottle. The length of the strip is up to you. This one was 21cm (size of the card) but I trimmed a bit from the bottom to re-use. Score the long edges at 6.5cm and fold. Cut your circle to go over the neck of the bottle in the 6.5cm square you have just made. I used a Spellbinders 4cm die.

I then took a page of the horse racing image from the ‘Little Book of’ that came with the kit, trimmed it down and adhered it level with the right hand side of my tag but leaving a border top, bottom and left hand side. I then added the strip I had trimmed from the bottom earlier to cover the top cut edge. Add a topper and sentiment, overlapping the sides by quite a way. Actually I think I went too far with the oval topper and that is what is not quite right with it for me. Then I used some Card Candi.

I like the second one more. It is shorter than the first – mainly because the cat chewed on the kraft card that was my starting point so I had to cut that bit off! I used one of the inserts to cover the tag, with the square pattern at the top. And yes I know this means a bit of the wording is upside down, and I fretted about this for a few minutes and then acknowledged that it didn’t matter. One. Tiny. Bit. I covered the bottom third with a part of a page taken from the Little Book again and added a small topper on 3d foam. I cut the flag from the same sheet from the Little Book and stuck it onto some card to make it sturdier. Because it is that bit shorter, you could use it for a beer bottle as I did in the photo (mainly because I don’t actually have two wine bottles to hand!). Or swanky olive oil for a keen cook, maybe?

The beauty of these is that, if you don’t write on them, the recipient (well, their wife or girlfriend) can reuse them, like we all do with bottle bags. So it is sort of two gifts in one! And because the kit is so huge, you could rustle up a themed card to go with it.

I’m going to make a few more modern ones, and some for us womenfolk too.

 

See the angry clown?

Again I am a bit short of time today. Hardly an unusual situation for most of us, I know. Lunch out, a spot of gardening and then back to the (paper) mill. Apparently there is some ironing to be done, but I just can’t seem to see it…ah well, later, maybe.

So, continuing to road test my new Altenew Painted Flowers stamps, I chose a smaller flower this time, with no ‘integral’ leaf (although you can still add some if you want). In a rare moment of foresight I had realised that if I used the same flower as yesterday, I could not make a random background in the way I usually would, and a little more thought and positioning would be required. Well, today is not the day for that (but maybe tomorrow)! I just wanna make somethin’ pretty, pretty darn quick.

I used Altenew Coral Berry and Frosty Pink inks, plus Jet Black (from, rather randomly, their green set of colours!)

The black card I used is not quite the gsm/lb weight I would like, so I also made a card mat for the back of the inside to reinforce it a bit. And stamped a happy flower on it for good measure. A Spellbinders Ribbon Tag die, Poppystamps Hip Hello die, silver glitter card and a spotty ribbon that I have had since for ever to complete it.

As for the angry clown, after I had finished stamping my background and removed the paper underneath, well, this is what I was confronted with…

angry clown

Tell me it’s not just me that sees it?!

Whose stupid idea was this?

Mine. I am sometimes going to try and make two cards/projects a day. Given that I only have a limited amount of time in the evenings, this is a best a foolhardy decision. But I’ve said it now, so I gotta give it a go. At least I only said ‘sometimes’. Maybe every third day?? Fifth day? Still too ambitious? Just random, then. Relief.

As I would not want to flunk on day one though, here is my second card for today.

My self-imposed rules say there has to be an element of crafting, so I can’t just grab a topper and stick it on a card blank. Well today I can’t anyway. By next week that might become totally acceptable.

I used Louise Tiler digikits in Serif, created my own background, not a whole page, just big enough to be the base layer. I made the sentiment using the included letters and added a larger umbrella. Everything fits onto one A4 sheet to print. A bit of cutting out and layering and job done. It’ll do. Phew!

 

Beetle mania?

The second thing I intended to do today was use (more!) old Kanban stamps I came across whilst rummaging last week. They are quite simple line drawings, almost caricatures, of iconic cars. My car knowledge is sketchy at best, but I think there is a mini, 2CV, Morris Minor, a Rolls Royce, Vespa, Camper Van and a Beetle, plus some road signs, speed limits and so forth. To me they look like paper piecing waiting to happen.

I chose the (I hope) Beetle (could be a mini!) as I had a mind to use some funky WRMK paper I have also had for ages. It is so bright and 1960s-ish that I thought it would be perfect. If you have never tried paper-piecing, give it a go; it’s a great way of getting colour into your card if, like me, you are not born to wield pens and pencils with any semblance of dignity. Also I find it very relaxing.

So, stamp my car once onto kraft card and cut it out. Do this first in case you make a mess of it. If you leave it to the end having done all your paper piecing and then get it wrong, there will be bad words used. Then stamp onto your patterned paper and cut out the sections you want, just inside the stamp line. This makes for a neater end result.

For the windscreen you have a choice. Stamp it again on white card, just the top bit with the windscreen, but this time with a blue ink, so you get the lines indicating the reflection. Now you can either cut this out in the same way (just inside the line) and stick it on to your patterned car and then stick that in turn onto your kraft card cut-out; or you can go in with the scissors and remove the windscreen section from your main image, then cut out your windscreen a little outside the line, to give you somewhere to put the glue. Stick it in place carefully, then adhere to your kraft card image. Obviously I went for the more complicated option. No idea why, really, except perhaps an urge to make sure that my simplistic hippie multi-coloured psychedelic vehicle looks as realistic as possible…?! And then I stuck googly eyes on it! Go figure. I couldn’t help it. When I looked at the car and the way the pattern had worked out it seemed like she had a bit of a pout. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to anthropomorphise, eyes had to be added. I have named her Clara.

hippie beetle detail

For the number plate again I stamped the bottom section of the car onto white card, then used a tiny word stamp to fit into the number plate before cutting it out and piecing it on. A kraft card background, embossed using Teresa Collins Modern Stripe, plus a tiny tag cut from more paper from the WRMK pad and a Spellbinders Charmed, I’m Sure die. Pink baker’s twine, 3d foam for the car and done.

hippie beetle card