Monday, 28 December 2009

Ready for another year

Well I've survived part one of the silly season, but despite 4 days off work I've not got around to doing anything crafty, so I figured I'd better start.

The Cubby Hole is closed until next week, but we have a new project - "A year in the life of..." The idea is to keep a record of our lives in 2010, using whatever format we like. There's no rules; it can be monthly, weekly (yeah, right) or just random entries when something happens. I haven't decided what I'll do with mine, other than use an 8x8 journal, I'll probably just make it up as I go along and what better to start with than the front page? I have to admit that now it's finished I'm not too sure about the lettering. I think it was better without it, but it's too late now.

Happy new year.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Still here

Well, Midwinter's gone, Christmas is all sorted (or as much as it's going to be) so it's back to normal crafting now.

This is for my future daughter in law's birthday.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The last festive card

At long last the card making frenzy has drawn to a close (until I realise I've forgotten somebody). Most of the cards are made in batches; cut, stick, sign, repeat - but a few have been one-off's for family. Unfortunately I forgot to get pictures of them before sending, but managed to remember this time. This is for a friend who's had a rough few weeks and needs a bit of cheering up.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009


Well, the Midwinter & Christmas cards are nearly finished, just a couple more production line ones to finish, and a last 'one-off'. Most are already winging their way to the recipients, and the rest will be gone by Friday. I haven't blogged any as I forgot to take pictures before sealing them - oops!
Saturday was the day to receive our Circle Journals back after nearly a year. Unfortunately mine was one of two that hadn't been handed in so I'm still waiting, but if the others are anything to go by it will be worth the extra few days wait.
Whilst I was at the Cubby Hole on Saturday I spotted a stamp with a quote about angels and instantly thought of a couple of people who would like the sentiment so bought it. I managed to find an angel image to go with it and after playing with photo paper, ink and water came up with these tags/bookmarks.

P.S. For those who are concerned that this is a bit 'cute'; please don't adjust your blogs, normal service will be resumed shortly.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Is it crafting?

or is it art?

I've been making Midwinter & Christmas cards this weekend. You know the drill; find an image, print it, mount it, fold a card, fix it in place, repeat until bored. Well, after making a few today I got bored and decided to have a play.
I dug out the journal I started last week at the Cubby Hole, turned to a blank page and started playing with distress inks and sticky fingers, finishing up with a greeny-blue swirly background surrounded by a black border. A quick rummage through my stash and I came up with some stamps and bits of envelope. They are salvages from ebay, from crafty stuff I've been sent and from friends, which brought to mind the saying "it's a small world" and the lightbulb went on - greeny blue surrounded by black? ....of course! Some sticking and staining, and a bit of lettering (still a scary process) and hey presto - a journal page.
Which brings me back to the title of this post. Is is craft, or is it art?
Like many of the people who's blogs I follow I consider myself a crafter. When I cut up a piece of wood and re-assemble it as a trinket box it's crafting (even when I decorate it), the same when I string beads together to make a necklace, or when I sit and assemble a Christmas or birthday card.
But this is different. In the same way that I stick bits together to make a card, I stuck bits together to make this, but it doesn't feel like crafting. Boxes and jewellery are functional. The card has a purpose, to convey a wish or a greeting. Even my scrapbook pages have a purpose, to capture memories in substance. This was made just for the sake of making it, for enjoyment. So it must be art. Or is it?
Answers on a postcard to "Confused of Crewe"

Sunday, 29 November 2009

The crafting continues

It's been quite a productive weekend :)

After yesterday's workshop I've been putting the finishing touches to the first of my Midwinter/Christmas cards (no pics yet, they're drying). I've also started on my Christmas box for the Cubby Hole swap, and finished off a sympathy card (which thankfully I didn't need). Finally I've added a card I made for one of the many birthday's coming up.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Green fingers

No, I haven't suddenly developed the ability to grow things, but sticky fingers inks don't come off that easily :)

Anybody who has looked at Sue Roddis's blog recently will have seen her blog entries about her ongoing journal page creations.
Well today it was the "Great Journal Workshop" at the Cubby Hole, and those who were lucky enough to get a place got the chance to start their own journal.

Great fun was had by all, trying out new ideas and colour schemes with great abandon. We layered paper, sprayed inks, painted with acrylics and even took a risk and wrote on our pages! Most people came away with a page or two that was complete, and several pages that were started and needed more inspiration.

These are the two pages from mine which are complete (maybe). The first started out as torn papers with acrylics spread over them, and finished up as a Roman theme when I found the picture of a legion invasion in one of the old books we were using ( the scan is a little unclear). The other one was a reflection on the day. It was such fun that the time really did fly (and we even had a treat and talked Paul into doing a chippy run for lunch :)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Winter Shrine

The theme this week over on Gothic Arches is to make a shrine. I'm not sure where the wooden box originally came from, but it was ideal - except that it was black. As a result I've spent quite a bit of time watching paint dry over the last few days.
Having decided on a winter theme, the hardest part was finding bits and pieces to use. I really must start collecting more junk (sorry, I meant ephemera).
The image is a drawing of Beira, a Scottish Goddess associated with Winter (also known as the Cailleach Bheur) perched on the mountain tops. Wherever you go in the world there are local deities associated with Winter. To the Norse she was Skaði, to the Germans Holda or Perchta and so on.

In other news, I'm the lucky winner of some blog candy so there's a nice selection of crafty goodies (and chocolate) winging their way to me. I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to the lovely Lydia for her generosity.

Sunday, 22 November 2009


There's not a great deal to report on the crafting front. I'm still struggling to get the ideas out of my head and onto paper/card/. Yesterday was crop shop at the cubby hole and I managed to get a couple of pages done in my 12 questions book. These are the questions from June and August (I managed to get out of synch somewhere along the way). Only 3 more to do and then I'll be back on track (yeah, right).
The answers are pretty straightforward really. I would love to be able to make music or sing, even if only for my own enjoyment, but sadly I couldn't even carry a tune in a bucket. Oh well, I guess I'll have to listen to other people doing the hard work and just enjoy it.*
Why do I want to visit Iceland? Because when I was about 12 we had a visit to school from somebody who had spent a lot of time in Iceland and gave a talk about this mysterious country. this was long before Iceland became a tourist destination, and was also about the same time as the "Cod War". It has held a fascination for me ever since. I've been there twice, but both occasions were stop-overs at Keflavik while on the way to Canada. One day I will pay a proper visit.
*Bad Company have announced a reunion tour in April and I have tickets :D

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Sorting out

I have a little crafty kit that I use when going to workshops, crops, etc; that holds my essentials - scissors, craft knife, pokey tool and so on. There's also a lot of other stuff in there like tooth picks and pens and 'things'. It's all kept in a nice tupperware box, or at least it was. I was rummaging yesterday and managed to stab my self with the pokey tool, so I bit the bullet and bought a mini-toolbox/organiser thingie. All my essentials are now nicely housed, various brads and beads have been returned to their rightful places, and the odd bits of paper and tape have been consigned to the bin. I have no doubt whatsoever that it won't last long. Give it a couple of weeks and there'll be 'stuff' that shouldn't be in there. Oh well, to celebrate my new-found organisation I've made a card which includes fibre and a watch face that were lurking in the old box :)

Monday, 16 November 2009

A star to steer by

At last, something to blog :)

I've been crafting over the last few days, but it's stuff I can't post as it would spoil the surprise. This is one for the blog however. I've missed the last couple of challenges over at Gothic Arches for one reason or another, so I was determined to do this one. The theme is stars, and after musing over "Starry, Starry Night" and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", I remembered the line from John Masefield's "Sea Fever" about tall ships.

For those who don't know the poem:

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,

And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,

And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

Friday, 6 November 2009


It's about the only way to describe this one really. It's a birthday card for a somebody at The Cubby Hole, and it doesn't look anything like the original idea. I originally started with the of a Crow or Raven and on an autumnal backing, and finished up with an owl and sort of plant-type frond things. Ah well, such is life.
The backing 'paper' is a page from an old edition of The Observers Book of Birds that I found lurking at the back of a shelf. I don't normally go about tearing books to pieces (not even for crafty purposes), but this one is the 1969 version, and it's already lost several pages - so my conscience is clear :)

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Taking stock

Looking back it's been a weird couple of weeks, 'flat' is probably the best description. I've had a complete dis-interest in anything, and as a result I've let a lot of things slip. I've managed to get one or two things done, but it's been because I had to, rather than because I could.
Last night I got together with a group for a spot of meditation and relaxation and the penny dropped- I've been too isolated. After a week down south, in a concrete block where everybody is totally focused on work, I got back up here to find out that there were only two other people in work, and they're not the most outgoing people. Last night was good, there was some laughter but more importantly people who managed to string more than two words together. It's also made me realise (because I've not seen them for the past couple of weeks) that there are a couple of people who I'm lucky to be able to call friends.
Today my mojo seems to be back on the up, so it's been a day for some serious baking. Tomorrow I'm heading up to Scotland to celebrate Samhain with friends, and I now have a huge batch of baked goodies to take with me; apple & hazelnut, pear & almond and ginger cake. I have no doubt that by time I get back on Sunday night my batteries will be fully charged and ready to go for some serious crafting.

In the meantime I'll leave you with something that I've made tonight. It's the latest challenge for the Fat Basted Chicken Club. The current book is Fragment by Warren Fahy, and the challenge is to make a bookmark including a peg; we vetoed the suggestion of a bookmark featuring a papier-mache dinosaur! If you're wondering where the peg is, it's on the other end of the ribbon so I can fasten it to the book cover.

Have a good weekend and enjoy your Samhain/Hallowe'en celebrations.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Samhain Arch

This is my entry for the latest Gothic Arches challenge. The theme was Orange & Black and a lot seem to be a take on Hallowe'en (I wonder why).
I figured that as I'm heading north for Samhain I'd kill two birds with one stone, a challenge and a thank you card rolled into one.

Saturday, 24 October 2009


I've been down south all week. I was called down to check out the latest system upgrade to see if it fitted what we needed, only to discover that it wasn't quite ready. By the end of the week we'd put together something which works; it's not pretty but it works. The hotel was excellent; comfortable room, good food, etc; and net access at £7.50 a night! I don't think so. I tried my mobile broadband but there was no signal :( As a result I spent most nights reworking the Cubby Hole website. You can see the results here.

I arrived back last night and realised I needed a 40th birthday card for today. Fortunately there was a template challenge on Crafts by Carolyn so I managed to kill two birds with one stone.

I've also managed to get the latest Gothic Arch done. I missed the last one as I had a mojo failure, so was determined not to miss this one as well. The theme is Risque, and I had this image lurking in a folder of old sepia photos. Hopefully I've not missed the deadline.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Light and dark

There should really be three items on display here but sadly one didn't make it. Monday was book club night and time to discuss "Twilight" - the latest vampire craze doing the rounds. It receive good reviews all round the table, until it reached me. It wasn't bad, just boring. If they'd cut the first 300 pages down to about 50 it would have made a good short story (and nobody would have missed the other 250 pages). The crafty challenge was to create an 8x8 layout inspired by the book. After 3 weeks of trying I was still looking at a blank page and waiting for inspiration to strike. Ah well, you can't win them all.

Now to the two items I have managed to produce.
First up is a Silver anniversary card. This is a commission from a friend. I was a little bit worried that I might have to do something cute, but she wanted something simple and elegant, so it was time to go back to basics again.
The rose is painted with silver acrylics, mounted on silver card and then onto heavyweight linen card. Unfortunately the scanner doesn't pick up shine very well so the silver looks grey.

The other offering is my contribution for the latest swap at the Cubby Hole. The challenge is to make a Hallowe'en card. Initially I tried to avoid using the ubiquitous orange & black theme, but somewhere along the way they crept in so I gave up the fight and went with the flow. I have managed to avoid pumpkins though :)

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

This is my entry for the latest challenge over on Gothic Arches. The theme for this week is inventors, and there can't be any better than Mr Isambard Kingdom Brunel - Inventor, Engineer and recently voted the second greatest Briton ever (Churchill was first).

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

100 Greatest Britons

Sunday, 4 October 2009

More spidery stuff

This is a page for a circle journal. The theme is Old Wives Tales. I'd originally started looking at bird sayings, but somehow finished up with spiders again.
Of course, I couldn't do a spider page without Boris making an appearance :)

If you want to live and thrive, let the spider run alive.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Love like you've never been hurt

It's been one of those weeks. No time to sit down, constantly busy and wondering where the week has gone. And what have I achieved? Nothing. In fact it's more like the square root of nothing.
It should have been a good week at work, no poison dwarf and not much work. Except that what work there was went the way of the pear. Cue lots of irate phone calls and unresponsive suppliers. Oh well, there's always crafty stuff to help get over it - yeah, right! Monday was crop shop at the Cubby Hole and I decided I'd crack on with the 12 questions journal.
I wouldn't say I'm behind with it, but this is May's question, "What is your favourite quote?" I spent all evening working on it, came home and binned it. I think at that point my mojo took a sulk and left.
Fortunately today has been more creative and I've managed to finish it. I had started with:
"It's better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and prove it" but although it fits me well, I couldn't scrap it, so went for "Love like you've never been hurt". A quick Google came up with the full quote, which was printed out on the two pages. I wanted it in the background so it was covered with a coat of Gesso and then coloured with distress inks, blended with a baby wipe to give a muted colour. After that the four main lines I wanted were added in a variety of ways. The pic for 'Sing like nobody is listening' is the little 'un and me singing along to a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band. Needless to say, the song is Freebird :)

I've also managed a card for my grandaughter's birthday. It's also my entry for a challenge on the CBC forum. It's a recipe card: 2 papers, 2 ribbons/cords, a button and mostly pink.
Right I'm now off to research spiders for a journal page, whilst enjoying a nice glass of red and some Pink Floyd.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Make up your own title for this one....

I think I'm going to blame the music (Yes) or the cheese.

This is my entry for the latest swap over at Gothic Arches. The current theme is Bows. I'll admit that my initial reaction wasn't exactly enthusiastic - in case you hadn't noticed I don't do cute.

Fortunately, I can do weird :)


OK, I know it's not exactly autumnal but that's modern life for you - things are in season all year round!

I needed a birthday card and came across the backing papers which feature the words from Wordsworth's poem. I've been trying my hand at drawing again, so decided to have a go at daffodils, and hey presto - a card :)

Saturday, 19 September 2009

What did I tell you?

....I just know that when I get there somebody will say "you should have asked, I've got plenty of them spare".

I arrived at the Cubby Hole this morning with my bag of home made boxes (a couple of which were looking a little sorry for themselves) to find a table groaning under a mountain of matchboxes. Not only had Sue brought enough for everybody, but Carol had sent her OH off on his bike to scour Tesco stores in the wilds of Stoke. I now have a carrier bag full of handmade boxes and several hundred safety matches in need of a home.

The workshop was enjoyable and I have now been introduced to spray inks (and a couple of them seem to have fallen into my craft bag). I'm not sure what I'll store in my matchbox extravaganza, but I'm sure I'll find something soon enough. I also envisage a couple of these being made for Christmas (my granddaughters probably need something to store their hand-made jewellery in).

It looks like we've also lured another card maker over to the dark side as well ;)

Oh, and I must say thank you to Suzanne (aka That Woman) for trying to get me some match boxes during the week.

Friday, 18 September 2009

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

We have a workshop at the Cubby Hole tomorrow, entitled 'Matchbox Extravaganza'. On Monday I found out that we have to supply our own matchboxes. Not just any matchboxes, they need to be the 'bigger-than-normal-but-not-as-big-as-cook's-matches' ones, from Tesco. I wandered down to find the shelves empty, but was told a delivery was due. Next day I received a text from 'that woman' to let me know she'd just bought the last ones! I've spent the past few days wandering around supermarkets looking for suitable matchboxes, with no success.
Oh well, no worries, I'll do what any self-respecting crafter would do, and make my own. If you ever hear me suggest anything similar in future please feel free to slap me! After having to reprint the template because the printer resized it, then find that the inners don't fit the outers and much muttering I finally have a bag of suitably sized boxes for tomorrow. And I just know that when I get there somebody will say "you should have asked, I've got plenty of them spare".

In other news the beaded rope is finished and has been received by a very grateful friend. She was so impressed that I now have a commission for a necklace in the same style. All I need to do is find some beads in the correct shade of pink.

Monday, 14 September 2009


The Arch card has been picked as a winner in one of the birthday challenges over on Gothic Arches :D

Thankfully it was a random draw as there are some seriously talented people on there :)

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Bimbling along

Well, I'm back at work so there's not been much crafty stuff going on :(

I've been working on a card today and finally finished it. It's my entry for Gothic Arches Challenge 3. The challenge is to make a card which includes an arch. The background is Autumn, but the scene through the arch is Spring.

I've been working on a bit of beadwork during the week, nothing extravagant - just a spiral stitch rope for a friend. She wears her glasses on a chain and it keeps snapping so I need a 2" rope instead. It's a fairly relaxing process and it grows at a reasonable length. I'm about halfway through so hopefully a few more days and I'll have it finished.

And on that note, I'm going to take my glass of wine and my beads and watch the Last Night of the Proms :)

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Taking stock

A long time ago (I think it was Tuesday) I said I was aiming to get a project done each day while I was on leave. Today is the last day. Looking back I've managed a set of ATCs, a CJ page, a canvas, an arch, and two pages in the 'Wheel of the year' book (plus assembling it). I'm not sure if the book counts as 1 item or two, but just to be on the safe side I've managed to complete another set of ATCs (Viva Las Vegas!).
Unfortunately it's back to work tomorrow so crafty output will be back to normal :(. I'm going to have to do better with the lotto numbers!

My first arch

This is my first go at one of the challenges on Gothic Arches.

This is challenge No' 3, a Gothic Arch tag.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

The circle is complete

At long last my 'Wheel of the Year' journal is finally complete and ready for sending off (along with various other goodies).

This has taken me the best part of a year to complete. It originally started life as a project for myself to record my journey through the wheel, however it soon became a swap project with a friend. I received my journal a couple of weeks back, and I've been trying to get this finished so that I can 'balance the books' so to speak.

I've photographed all the pages but, with the exception of one that I
blogged a while back, I'm keeping them under wraps until they have been seen by the recipient. I will however let you see the covers, as she has already seen pics of them.

The 'Wheel of the Year' is a term used by Wiccans and some other pagans when referring to the cycle of the seasons through the year. It consists of 8 festivals which mark the solstices and equinoxes (quarter days) and four fire festivals (cross-quarter days). Although I don't follow the wheel as such, it was a useful yardstick to use for the journal as it gave me a set of way-points to use, and allowed me to understand some of the customs and beliefs behind the days.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Getting there :)

Well, I'm on target with my five day crafty blitz so far.

Yesterday was the turn of CJ4. Thankfully it's a fairly simple CJ theme, so there wasn't anything to intricate to be done, mostly just trimming and arranging on the page. I was going to put up a pic, but as this is only a short post I decided against it, plus it's nothing too spectacular.

Last night and today I've been working on a canvas entitled "Ephemera". It's the crafty element of this month's book at The Fat Basted Chicken Club.
The book is Araby by Gretta Mulrooney. It's the story of a man coming to terms with his mother dying from cancer. The story switches back and to between the end of her life in Ireland, and his childhood in London. The woman he remembers from his childhood is a larger than life character who flits from one thing to another like a butterfly attracted by ideas, hobbies and objects until the interest wanes, or something else comes along. The canvas is inspired by various things that jumped out of the book. I'm not 100% sure if it's finished yet. It looks a little sparse in places, but so far I've resisted the urge to go and add something else.

Anyway, time to crack on with the next task - finishing off the year book. Only two pages to go, so hopefully that will be done by tomorrow night, although as it's two pages I can justify taking two days if I need to ;)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Return of the travelling man

I figured it was time for an update, seeing as the last one was a fortnight ago. There's not much crafty stuff been going on, mainly because I've been swanning around again.

The weekend before last was the Harvest camp at Exmoor. Unfortunately nobody told me it was also the V festival, so I spent two hours parked on the M6, but got there in the end and it was well worth it. Apart from seeing old friends again, and making new ones, there was the usual sense of community spirit and friendship, as well as the sharing of ideas (and home-brew). It was summed up best by Richard; "I've only known most of you for a short time, yet you are some of my oldest friends". The beaded spiders went down very well, and in return I learnt how to play a didgeridoo (well, I can get a sound out of it), how to make charm bags, and how to sing a round. For this camp the harvest ritual was devised and conducted by some of us who don't normally work in a group, and it was a resounding success, culminating in the offering of the communal soup back to the Earth.

It was back to work on the Tuesday for three days before my next trip. Unfortunately those three days included the announcement that 1200 jobs will be going in UK. In the space of 3 hours we were told that we may be redundant, that our jobs are safe and that we are in one of the redundancy areas. When I left work on Thursday the situation stood that we are in one of the redundancy groups, although our jobs should be safe. The 90 day period begins on the 11th so until then little will happen. Sometime after that we'll find out for definite if we're going or not. Personally I think our team is safe, but you never know. Oh well, no use worrying about it, it won't change anything. I'll just bimble on as normal and if it happens, it happens. If it does, I guess I'll have more crafty time :)

Friday was the start of another trip. This time it was off to Uffington, home of the White Horse, for the UKP Southern camp. Nothing as organised as Exmoor, just a handful of us in a field chilling out. Saturday was a wander over a couple of hills to visit the horse and then onto Waylands Smithy. After getting back we sat and watched red kites hunting, along with a buzzard. Sunday was the White Horse country show, so we took a walk over a couple of fields to go and have a look. There were the usual stalls, heavy horse displays, sheep dog trials, etc; and flying displays. First up a couple of wingwalkers on 1940's biplanes (must be mad) and then later, after we'd walked back, a flypast by the restored AVRO Vulcan Bomber. Yesterday was pack-up and drive back, and then taking stock of where I am crafty-wise.

I have 5 days until I'm back in work, and the idea is to get at least one project a day finished to clear the backlog. Last night and this morning it was ATCs. The theme is "I do like to be beside the seaside", and here's my take on it. Unfortunately the scan isn't too good, but the text is from the old music hall song of the same name.

Right, I'm off to the next project, CJ4.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Four seasons in one day

Not the weather, that's been it's usual 'cloudy with occasional glimpse of sun'.

I'm talking about my Fat Quarters for the Cubby Hole swap, the theme of which is nature. My original idea was to do the four elements, but I couldn't get to grips with fire, so I went for the seasons instead. They are made from some wood grained paper that I've had sitting around for a while, and embellished with grunge-board. I'm quite happy with winter, and even more so with autumn, but I'm not too sure about the spring and summer ones. I guess I need more practice with brights and pastels.

Yesterday was a trip to the Cubby Hole to stock up on a few bits and pieces, mostly distressed inks. Unfortunately they wouldn't fit in the inks box, so I had to find a bigger box, which left me a spare box so I moved some stamps into that, which left another gap and so on. At least I eventually finished up with somewhere to put the old keys and watches that I've acquired, so for now I haven't got crafty bits lying around needing a home. I don't suppose it will last long though, it never does.

I'm off to Exmoor next weekend, and as I volunteered to teach making beady spiders I figured I'd best make one beforehand. Allow me to introduce Boris :)

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Grungey Tuesday

Actually it's now Wednesday, but these were done last night. Apologies for not posting them this morning, but work firewall is happy to post text, but not pics. Oh well.

Nothing deep or meaningful this time, just a couple of quick cards I put together last night. I've not tried grunge-board before and it's an odd material to use at first, it even has an odd smell.

I suppose it's really designed to be used with other Tim Holtz stuff, but the only inks I have are a few distress inks in earth tones, and as I wanted bright colours to stand out from the backgrounds I had to go and dig out my pigments (Versa-cubes and cat's eyes).

They're not the best cards I've ever made, but for a first attempt I think they came out ok.

I've got a full loyalty card for the Cubby Hole, so I think I'll stock up on some brighter dye pads :)

Saturday, 8 August 2009


No, not John Lennon's song, but my altered canvas.

Today was another Sue Roddis workshop at the Cubby Hole and it was another altered canvas this week, using pegs and stamps (amongst other things). No real new techniques this time, but more learning about colour and texture, and this is the result. I've also picked up some Tim Holtz grunge board shapes this week as I managed to get in before the vultures :)

After the mojo rush of last weekend I've hit a blank patch again. I've got a CJ and 2 cards to get done in the next couple of days, and several other projects which are all getting closer to the deadline. Just to add to the pressure I've got 2 long weekends away this month so even less time to work on things. Oh well, it'll all come good, one way or another.

Good news this week. I've received an amazing 'Wheel of the Year' journal from a friend, with some amazing work in it. The one I'm working on is only 3/4 complete, so that's another project that needs me to get a shift on. Once I've got it on the way and she's happy with it, I'll maybe post some excerpts from the one I received, but for now it stays under wraps.

Night all, I'm off to try and find my mojo, but if it doesn't turn up I'll console myself with wine, chocolate and 70's glam rock :)

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Book of the month at the Fat Basted Chicken Club (long story, but it's all in the pronunciation).

This is the second offering from Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner. The story centres around two women living in Afghanistan from the 60's until the present day. Although a generation apart they both end up married to a man with strict ideas about the role of women in society, which is basically that they are his property. The story is played out against the continual wars that ravage the country; the Russian invasion, Mujahideen rivalries, the Taliban and ending with the arrival of the UN/NATO/Coalition forces. It deals with the harsh life they both suffer, and yet there are points of beauty and hope which crop up from time to time. It ends on an optimistic note for the future, which may or may not come to pass.
It's not my usual read, I normally prefer sci-fi/fantasy, but that's the beauty of the book club, it widens your horizons. It was an enjoyable read and I may read more of Hosseini's work, but can't guarantee it. This is well worth a read though.

As well as reading the book, we also set a challenge each month, and this month it's a scrapbook/journal page inspired by the book. This is my offering, a contrast of colour and drabness, despair and hope. The image of a bird that's free to fly, seen through the mesh of a burqa; flowers enveloping the barbed wire. The poem is Kabul, by the 17th century poet Saib-e-Tabrizi, and is the origin of the book's title:

One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs
And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls

Saturday, 1 August 2009

A Chilled Week

Before I start the boring journal bit, a couple of thank you's:

to P for her comprehensive (and enthusiastic) guide to the Hebrides
to team TTT for lodgings & company
and to the other P for giving me the push to go and do it instead of just talking about it.

Day 1 (Friday)
Finished work at lunchtime and headed off to Perth where I'd been offered lodgings by TTT. Thankfully traffic wasn't too bad so I was there by 7. At something past midnight I crawled into bed having spent an enjoyable evening with TTT & hubby and Flute.

Day 2 (Saturday)
Woken at 6 by the sun streaming into the room and spent the next hour trying not to be awake, without much success. Eventually admitted defeat and got up. After a hearty breakfast courtesy of TTT it was time to hit the road.
The drive from Perth to Skye was lovely, passing through some wonderful scenery. Just after 1 I crossed the Skye bridge and started my drive across the Isle of Skye. I now have another entry on my list of places to visit. Skye is stunning, with some truly amazing mountains. I'd allowed 8 hours for the trip to Uig, but even after stopping to do some shopping and refuelling I was still there 2 hours early. Nothing for it but to relax and wait for the boat, which was ½ hour late arriving.
After a nice smooth crossing we landed in Tarbert just after 8. Following a 90 minute drive through some amazing, and at times remote, scenery I reached the site
and parked up. The good thing with the van is that it takes no time at all to set up on arrival, so 10 minutes later I was stood on a beautiful white beach watching the day fade to night. A little later, after a wee dram, I snuggled into my sleeping bag and drifted off to the sound of gently falling rain on the roof.

Day 3 (Sunday)
Woken by the sound of rain on the roof, only now it sounded like a deluge of biblical proportions. Oh well, the forecast was rain for most of the week so went back to sleep. Woke again about 9 and apart from a little bit of rain all was quiet. After a shower and breakfast I settled in for an easy day of not doing much. For those who don't know Lewis & Harris are one of the centres of the 'Wee Frees' (Free Church of Scotland) and they still hold the Sabbath to be sacred, no work, nothing open, etc. so I decided to do the same (when in Rome....)
By 11 the rain had stopped so I went for a walk along the beach. It's beautiful, about a mile long, glistening white sand and strewn with shells of all shapes,sizes and colours, especially razor shells. It was also more or less deserted. The water is crystal clear and I sat watching Gannets circling around before dropping like an arrow into the water for fish, while the terns skimmed along the top.
Eventually I reached the end and followed a path up into the dunes, then walked back to the camp site through the machair . It's hard to do it justice, calling it a meadow or wild flowers is like saying a Bentley is a car. It is everywhere, a sea of wild flowers in all colours; great swathes of blues & yellows, purples & whites, the occasional splashes of red or orange and alive with birds and insects. When the sun comes out it is breathtaking.
The rest of the day was spent in similar vein, wandering around the beach, paddling in the surf and watching the world go by. Eventually the sun set and the rain returned so it was back to the van for a glass of wine, a book and bed.

Day 4 (Monday)
Woken by the sound of wind and rain (again, I'm sensing a pattern here). I lay there and listened to it for a while as it's quite relaxing in a way. Eventually the rain stopped but the wind was set for the day. Pottered around for a while and stowed the van and then headed off for Stornoway. It's not a huge place, and didn't take too much exploring but it gave me a chance to stock up at the Co-op and the butchers (World famous Charley Barley's). I followed that with a drive out to Tiumpan Head to see the lighthouse and watch the boats.
On the way back I drove over to the island of Great Bernera to see the Iron Age house and yet another gloriously deserted beach. The house is well worth a visit and as I was the only visitor at the time I was able to find out plenty about it from the lady who was staffing it.
Back at the site somebody had taken my previous pitch, so I'm now parked further on, with a view out over a splendidly multi-coloured field as I type this.

Day 5 (Tuesday)
As usual I fell asleep to the sound of rain, and woke up to the same. Thankfully it followed the usual pattern and calmed down after a while. Had breakfast and set off for a day of exploring. First stop was the reason I've travelled this far north – the stone circle at Callanish. I've always wanted to visit since I first saw pictures of it. I've never felt the urge to go to Stonehenge, and Avebury is ok but this place is much better. There's more than one circle at Callanish, or Callanais to give it it's proper title, but it's the main circle I've come to see and it wasn't disappointing. I was lucky to arrive as one coach party as leaving and the next hadn't arrived, so I had the stones to myself for a short while. There's a good feel to the place, quiet and welcoming and I think it still retains some of it's spirit, because it's remote enough not to be totally over-run by tourists. From the site it's possible to see the Cailleach na Mointeach or 'Old Woman of the Moors' on the horizon, but although she was visible to the eye it was too hazy for a decent photo.
After wandering around the visitor centre and a spot of lunch I headed north to visit the old Norse
Mill & Forge at Shawbost which are just off the main yet apart from a small tourist sign not marked in any way. A short walk over the hill leads to the 2 buildings which have been restored. There's no guide, no explanatory notice boards, just a ring-binder with some notes in them and a honesty box for contributions.
After leaving there it was a nice run up to the lighthouse at Butt of Lewis, next stop – the Arctic. On the way back I stopped off at Steinacleit to visit the stone circle and cairn (and get drenched – it had to happen sooner or later). I decided to leave the smaller Callanais circles and Carloway until tomorrow as the evening was closing in.
One thing that has surprised me is the variety of scenery in the islands. I'd expected it to be mostly rugged mountainous terrain with winding narrow roads, and there is plenty of that, but there are also vast tracts of open moorland with long straight roads disappearing over the horizon, and around Stornoway it's tree-lined roads. Amazing.

Ah well, time for a shower and bed I think (before the rain starts again).

Day 6 (Wednesday I think)
Woke to the sound of wind but no rain. I think this may be a good thing (or a trick). Received a text from P asking me if I'd been anywhere near the tornado! Apparently Stornoway had been hit by a mini-twister. Had breakfast and stowed the van, then the rain arrived (I knew it was too good to be true).
Decided to go and visit the 2 smaller circles at Callanais as I'd not had time yesterday. CIII is a small circle with 3 inner stones which apparently represent the Celtic triple goddess. There was a good feel to the place and I took my time to enjoy it before moving on. CII is only a couple of hundred yards away and is just a few stones which remain from a burial cairn. It had a completely different feel from CIII and I didn't stay.
After that I went on to Carloway Broch, a large tower which has partly collapsed but is still imposing. After walking up the hill it was howling wind and horizontal rain, yet inside the broch walls it was completely still and hardly any rain at all. It's an amazing structure and the remaining section is still solid (although some restoration is required from time to time).
After leaving there I drove down to Laxan to visit the art centre but it was closed, so headed back to camp. By this time the rain had stopped, the wind was down to breezy, and the sun was out so it was time for a stroll on the beach and a paddle in the surf before tea (dinner). My usual spot had gone again, so I finished up between two empty caravans, with a view over the beach. After tea I sat on the edge of the dunes, with a glass of wine watching the birds fishing and the tide rolling in. It's my last night here, and I'll be sad to leave, but I'm heading down to Harris & Tarbert tomorrow and it seems daft to come back here just to drive back to Tarbert on Friday morning, so I'll find somewhere to park up near Tarbert if I can.

Right, that's the diary up to date, time for one more stroll & paddle before bed.

Day 7 (Thursday)
The last full day on the islands. It took ages to drop off to sleep last night, maybe because I didn't have the soothing sounds of the rain, or maybe not. I woke up at 6 this morning to peace and quiet, and the rising sun reflected in my wing mirrors, closely followed by the morning deluge. Ate the last of my world famous black pudding for breakfast and then stowed everything away ready for the last bit of exploring. Apart from a couple of showers earlier on it's been a lovely day, a bit of cloud here and there, but mostly sunny and warm.
First stop today was Luskentyre, which is breathtaking in it's beauty, not too mention it's size. Yet another glorious white beach that remains thankfully almost deserted.
After that it was a case of following
the coast road round to Rodal to view the restored St Clements church with it's magnificent engravings.
The final destination was Tarbert, ready for tomorrow's ferry, and I decided to take the Golden Road. It's a narrow switchback road that was built at considerable cost to connect the coastal community. It's a road which really tests your clutch, brakes and, in some places, your nerves. I arrived in Tarbert just to see the last ferry of the day heading off into the distance and set off to have a wander around. An hour later I'd bought the obligatory gifts and mementos, had lunch and needed somewhere to park up. After a quick detour to see what was on Scarpay (not a lot) it was back to Luskentyre to park up for the night.
It's now 8.30, my phone and watch are set for 6 ready for the 7am ferry and the return to the mainland. Time for a quick glass of wine and a few pages of a book and then an early night.

Day 8 (Friday)
Caught the ferry, drove home.