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

What has plenty of ‘or’s, but no boat?

This does. Another ‘warts and all’ post..

The temperature in my corner of the UK is 32°C today. We are not prepared for such things. Air conditioning is not commonplace; people are hot, and there is no cooling breeze, real or man-made. I work in an old building which takes ages to warm up in winter and ages to cool down in summer. There has been some petty pilfering of, and ugly scenes over fans. Towns are unbearable in weather like this, especially if you have to work and try to still look vaguely professional and not like a melted waxwork gamely sporting a summer frock.

What happened to the Goldilocks effect? Why is it either ‘unseasonably cold’ or ‘unseasonably hot’? Why is it hardly ever ’just right’? of course I know my ’just right’ is not for everyone. but, my ‘just right’ is pretty much bang on what we are daily told we should be expecting for the time of year. Fine & sunny, lovely. Warm, sure. Low to mid 20s C, super. I am pretty sure temperatures of +30° are unconstitutional.

Here is something seasonal, as well as being the warts and all bit (sorry if you thought that was covered in the above rant)! I think it also lacks the Goldilocks effect. A few days ago I made this card and I am not sure about it. Sometimes I think it is fine, and other times very much flawed. I love the image, and because I am somewhat challenged in the colouring department I opted for a bit of punchy selective paper piecing instead. Cunning, huh?! OK, not exactly Machiavellian but not Baldrick either. Then I though I would aim for a vintage look, but with sun-bleached seaside colours.

vintage seaside

I found the bunting in a digikit and it was ok, but not enough. A further search for shells and I found these two in different kits, resized, re-coloured and then added them. Now, well, I just don’t know. Maybe if I had stamped the sunbather onto kraft card instead? Or just taken down the white a bit? Or used a smaller card base and moved the main image up to touch or overlap the bunting slightly? Or not put the poor sunbather in imminent danger of being overpowered by giant human-eating shells? Or maybe it is just a bit uninteresting?

Supplies: stamp from Crafty Individuals; everything else from Serif CraftArtist

 

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

 

Who doesn’t like an elephant in wellies?

Especially when he is holding a bunch of balloons to boot (sorry, had to be done).

Am still in the Mojo Doldrums – a small group of islands populated by burnt-out crafters – so this time resorted to gift wrap to try and get me back up and running. Gift wrap seems less demanding, somehow, and its temporary nature takes the pressure off a bit. Nobody puts their gift wrap on show once they have opened the present, right? Others don’t look through the mantelpiece display and say ‘well that sticky tape is well positioned’ or ‘wow, look how sharp the corners are on that one’ do they?

So, a couple of milk carton boxes made with my Crafter’s Companion Sweet Treats score board. The boxes are really quick to cut and construct and then you just decorate as you wish. Normally I would love doing this, but today even gift wrap seems to be beyond me, so these are pretty basic. I have used gingham, for prettiness and Louise Tiler images from CraftArtist because they are lovely and I can resize them. The clip on the blue version was already patterned with a stripe, so no extra effort required. For the pink one I covered a plain silver clip in the same washi tape that I used as a border.

I wanted to embellish them a bit more, and make gift tags, but I just cannot settle on what to do. In a glass half full spirit I will call them work in progress.

 

Flamingo-a-go-go

Some bright and juicy colours today. This card is made using a paper pad called Paradise Crush. It is really strong greens, oranges, pinks and teals, plus a few more muted colours. Not something I would usually be drawn to, but I am a fan of the designer Louise Tiler’s artwork and, hey, it’s good to step out of the comfort zone and challenge yourself a bit.

The flamingo paper caught my attention first. Flamingos are everywhere at the moment. Well, not literally obviously. There isn’t one sitting on the sofa reading a paper, or driving a mini cab, or working at the local chippie (he’d eat all the fish, right?), but you know what I mean. Anyway, I wanted to feature it, and not cover it up too much. Then I remembered I had a few templates to make quirky shaped cards. Given that flamingos are, themselves, the quirkiest of shapes, I thought it might be fun.

I have had these templates since the internet was a toddler, and they are probably are bit redundant now that we can download anything, but it was nice not to have to do the research and make the template myself, just draw around and cut.

I used a second sheet of card from the same pad for the inside layer and fussy cut a couple of elements from other pages for a bit more interest. The ‘hello’ was left over from yesterday’s post, so I just added 3d foam and Glossy Accents. I need to neaten up the glossy Accents a bit before I can give it to someone!

A template for an envelope is also included. It needs A4 size paper at least and the pad is much smaller, so I searched my Louise Tiler digikits in Serif CraftArtist and found a splodgy (technical term) design to coordinate.

flamingo hello with twineflamingo hello with twine 2

I really enjoyed doing this one, and I love the interesting shapes the templates offer.

Supplies: Trimcraft First Edition Paradise Crush 6 x 6″Paper Pad; Serif CraftArtist Louise Tiler Fashion Florals digikit; Altenew Superscript dies and stamps; Ranger Glossy Accents; Ribbon Room Baker’s Twine

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

Same tools, different results

These cards were made with the same products I have used for the last two posts (leaving out the technical blip one!). I just decided to change up the colour scheme a bit. The one with the little shoes was a breeze, done in literally minutes with leftover decoupage elements and a square card blank that I cut down to make the size I wanted.

This second one I believe could be called a difficult birth. We went through a lot of trauma and bad things were said. To be honest I wished my craft space had gas and air on offer. I would have happily inhaled deeply many times. I’m still not 100% happy with it (about 55%, really), but, like parenthood, you do your best and then live with the end result.

I think I am done with baby card posts for a while!

Supplies for card one: Serif CraftArtist  – Louise Tiler Baby Bloom digikit; Craftwork Cards card blank

Supplies for card two: Altenew Baby Zoo stamps and dies and Dark Chocolate & Ocean Waves inks; Cuttlebug Just My Type embossing strips (from old stash)

 

Boys in blue

A couple more baby boy cards today. Both quick, both using Serif CraftArtist and Louise Tiler Baby Bloom digikit. Simple images, so I thought a bit of decoupage would be in order.

For each one I only need to use one sheet of cardstock. I decide the size and shape of the finished card and then add my ‘material’ (Serif name for a bit of backing paper you can resize) and make bigger/smaller as required for the base card. Then add the ‘Embellishments’ I want and again resize. Once that is done I copy and paste the resized embellishments as many times as required to be able to make multiple cuts for the decoupage. Shuffle everything around a bit to fit, print and craft.

LT baby booties

For the ‘washing line’ one I just cut the three main items out again, used a 3d foam pad low down on the cut-out and glued the top part (the pegs, basically!) flat onto the image below. Hopefully to give a breezy feel (thought about saying ‘windy’ but decided against it!). With such simple cards just a little bit of extra detail or interest helps, I think. Maybe?

LT baby washing line

Hope you like them!

Today is…Cat-urday?

I recently told a friend that at some point in the future I hoped to have a dog. Her immediate question was ‘what will you call it?’ This took me by surprise a bit – most people ask ‘what sort?’ I realised that I usually name my pets after meeting them – sometimes within a few hours, more often it has taken me days to come up with something I like and that I think fits their personality or behaviour. The only time I didn’t do this was with Riley (the current cat) who was briefly called Pumpkin.

The reasons for this are/were many:

It is a term of endearment I sometimes use

It was Autumn, not much after Halloween when I first met him

He was sort of orange (ginger) in places

I call the end of the work day ‘pumpkin time’, as in make like a pumpkin and get the heck out of Dodge (to mix Cinderella with the wild west…)

 But after having him for a couple of days I went off the idea. It was too cute a name for a cat clearly full of mischief. I needed something a bit more cool, more edgy. Ideas, suggestions, rejections and eventually Riley was settled on. And it really suits him.

Back to my friend. I also know she had her dog’s name picked out ages before she actually got him. But it really suits him too though. So which is it? Does the personality dictate the name or does the name dictate the personality?

What are the best names for pets you have heard? How did you decide on yours?

With pets on my mind I made a couple of really quick and simple cards using Serif CraftArtist and Born to Shop Pets digikit.

Royal Cat

morning cat

Photos are a bit gloomy because it looks like the end of days outside at the moment.

Nun spotting

Lately I have been seeing more than the usual amount of nuns. Zero is precisely the usual number so anything above that is notable. This is Southeast London, not the Vatican City. We have no cathedral, no convents. I really hadn’t seen a nun out and about for years. Then, a few weeks ago, there was one on my bus journey to work. Her habit got caught in the door as she got off, but she and her modesty were luckily intact. She laughed it off as two kind and lovely young men came to her aid and no harm seemed to have been done.

A few days later I saw another, foolishly running across the road in front of a bus, whilst looking the other way.  I screwed up my eyes and…nothing…Nun intact and no harm done again. But two nuns in transport-related incidents? C’mon!

More days pass and I see nun number three. This one was licking an ice cream. I am not sure this is within the rules of acceptable nun behaviour (my nun knowledge is sketchy and based on childhood experience) but she didn’t look guilty so I guess maybe things are more lenient than when I was a kid. I think this might have required some reparation back in the day.

Then, two nuns together, walking arm in arm! Now I am really beginning to wonder. It’s like when you get a new car and your consciousness of the make and colour is raised. Suddenly you see your car’s doppelganger everywhere. I am on nun alert. But I am pondering: all their Habits were various colours, which to me means different Orders, I think? I have some dim recollection that clothing for novices is not the same, but then I think maybe I am confusing nuns with martial arts. I’m pretty sure you don’t get a black belt in ‘nunship’. Then again, times seem to have changed. Maybe they have badges like Boy Scouts now?

What is going on? Why the sudden increase in visible nuns? Is it a ‘Call the Midwife’ factor coming in to play here? My curiosity is piqued!

Then, on my way home tonight, a man gets on the bus dressed in colourful monk’s robes, lugging a crammed bag of M&S food and a box of wine! Has the universe changed that much? Did I miss the email? Was I out getting a coffee when it happened? I guess the world has loosened up a little!

Anyway, I had a yellow rose left over from my last card. Shame to waste it, so a card with just one focal flower is required.

yellow rose grey chevron card

Supplies: Altenew Vintage Flowers stamps and Four Scoops inks; Dies: Poppystamps Hip Hello and Sue Wilson Faux Quilled Leaves; Background paper: Serif CraftArtist Louise Tiler Modern Gent digikit