Sunday, 31 May 2009

There's always a dark side

My crafty mojo seems to be on overdrive at the moment.
I’ve spent this afternoon working on a Circle Journal layout. For those who haven’t come across them before, a CJ is a blank book which you create. You choose a theme, specify any ‘rules’ and then complete the 1st two pages. Once that’s done you pass it to the next person in the circle, who does the next two pages, and passes it on until it comes back to you, complete.
This is Suzanne’s journal and I’m the last but one to complete their pages. There is only one swap left before we get our completed CJs back. The theme for this one is the end of WW2. The other people’s completed pages are full of hopes and dreams; loved one’s coming back, weddings being planned and so on.
I started looking for images on Google and came across the documents that I’ve used. From those, there was only one way to go – the dark side.
The scroll commemorates the death of Flt Lt Scott (RAF). The letter at top right is a copy of a valuer’s report on a bombed out house. Maybe the most poignant is the miner’s wage slip. It was issued to a ‘Bevin Boy’ on 12th May 1945, just after VE day. He was killed the following week in a tunnel collapse. The white feather ties in with it as many of the Bevin Boys were labelled as Conchies, whether they were or not.
It’s an age old story. The return of the victorious conquering heroes, celebrations of newly won freedom, grand speeches and revelries. But for every joyful re-union there is somebody, somewhere sitting with a heavy heart. I’ve seen it and lived with it, so I guess this is me saying a small thank you to those who gave, and doing my bit to keep their memory alive.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Coming up roses

It's been a bit of a flat week really, after the enjoyment of the weekend. Back into work on Tuesday and apart from it being quiet, having to put up with sulks from one member of the team didn't help. Luckily there was some re-coding to do for the invoicing database so that helped, and we had a team lunch on Thursday too :) We've been invited to head South to mingle with another part of the account and meet the people we deal with each week. Most of us jumped at the chance except one who then moaned about having to be in the office on her own.
Now that the good weather is back I've decided that it's time to get back on my bike each day for work. Unfortunately that's not going to happen very soon as some thieving ##### had it away last night, despite it being locked and behind locked gates. Ah well, I guess my feet still work.

Anyway, on to the real reason you're here ;)

It's a friend's birthday tomorrow, and as I got
a beautiful card and a gift from her, I wanted to return the favour. The gift was easy enough, but the card wasn't. After several false starts during the week I decided to go back to basics last night and dug out a pencil. Google came up with a nice image to use and a couple of hours later this was the result. Pen and ink drawing coloured with distress inks.
For the non-crafters, the fluffy material behind the image is Mulberry paper. It's a fibrous textured paper. If you run a wet paintbrush over it you can pull it apart to give the feathery edges. A quick rub around the edges with an ink pad, and you have the card you see before you :)

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Bank holiday weekend

Well, I’m back from camp and now feeling slightly more with-it than I was before. All that fresh air had obviously had an effect (not to mention the wine and lack of sleep) so last night wasn’t a night for coherent writing.

Friday started out reasonably bright, and the van was packed up and pointed north. Unfortunately as I got further north the weather get a lot wetter and darker. I arrived ok, having found some rather narrow lanes courtesy of the scrap-nav. Having slithered through a rather muddy entrance I found a place to park, stuck the kettle on and caught up with the others who were already there. As the afternoon wore on the field filled up with campers, and thankfully there was only one who needed towing out of the mud, but I won’t mention any names. The rest of the day and night was spent in the usual manner of putting up tents, making brews and catching up with gossip.

Saturday dawned grey and damp with plenty of low cloud, and wasn’t looking good for the handfasting. During the morning people wandered off to do their own thing; sightseeing, shopping, walking and so on. I spent it relaxing and recovering from the night before. Never underestimate the curative powers of Gingerbread! As the day wore on preparations were made for the handfasting; a willow arch made, cords decorated, and much more. At 5 we all dug out our finery and headed off to the designated spot to watch the happy couple get wed. Although the weather wasn’t perfect, at least the wind died down and the rain held off. After that it was back to the campsite for more socialising in the mod-pod, sampling various wines and watching the skies clear.

Sunday was a complete contrast to what had gone before. Clear skies, lots of sunshine and warm temperatures. 4 of us decided to get out and make the most of the day, so we piled into the car and headed out to explore the local area. First up was a wander around Keswick where we stoked up with a hot pie and a drink before going in search of Castlerigg stone circle. We arrived at the circle to find an ice-cream van, cars parked all along the road and lots of Japanese tourists. The circle itself is interesting, and the views all around are spectacular, looking out to Helvellyn, Skiddaw, Blencathra and Lonscale Fell. We spent a bit of time trying to figure out where the sunrise/set points would be, but decided that Google would be easier when we had more time. Unfortunately the visit was marred by the idiots who seemed to think there was nothing wrong with climbing up the stones, even if it was liable to damage the lichens which take forever to grow on them.

After leaving Castlerigg we headed
off in search of the Ospreys of Bassenthwaite (via the ‘scenic’ route). Eventually we spotted a sign for Ospreys – 1 mile. It would seem that a Cumbrian mile isn’t the same as anywhere else, but we got there eventually. We hiked up to the lower viewing point to be greeted by spectacular views, and the news that we’d have to go up to the upper viewing point, which is only ½ mile further on. Yes, one of those miles again. When we got there we were fortunate enough to see both birds on the nest, flying, and one of them being mobbed by a Buzzard. It was even possible to get
a photo through one of the scopes. The views were every bit as spectacular as from the lower site. Once we’d had our fill of Osprey spotting we headed back down for a well deserved cup of tea and slice of cake, before heading back to camp, stopping off to pick up some wine for the quiz.

Arriving back at camp there was just time to have dinner and take down the mod-pod before donning the waistcoat-of-many-colours to host the UKP May camp quiz, complete with music round. Top prize went to Gawain, and AMF got the booby prize box of chocs. The rest of the evening was passed around the camp fire debating the merits of hot potatoes.

Monday morning was another beautifully sunny one. The sun on my back was wonderful as I stood and cooked breakfast. Once that was done it was time to stow the van, say my farewells and head home with store of memories and a few photos.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Dragonflies and Steampunk

Today's plan was to catch up on some of the journalling that needs doing, and sorting out some stuff for next weekend's camp, but the best laid plans and all that.

This month's Somerset Studio had an article on Steampunk which reminded me of an old PC game called Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magick. That led to a conversation with Sue yesterday, which in turn resulted in an email with a link to The Steampunk Workshop. Needless to say, a lot of the time when I should have been creating was spent mooching about the web, following various links to some amazing sites, and wondering how I can incorporate some Steampunk influences into my work.

Fortunately I managed to tear myself away
long enough to have a go at the "All that glitters" challenge at Crafts by Carolyn. The Dragonfly is painted with H2O's to give it some sparkle, and then double-embossed for a bit of extra shine. The ribbon is sparkly too.

Now, I wonder if I can produce a steampowered, gear-driven Dragonfly for the next one ;)

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Street Cred? What's that?

OK, I admit it - I watched Eurovision. I even enjoyed it in a way. I wasn't going to bother but somebody kept mentioning Germany's entry so I had to go and see what the fuss was about and it just sucked me in from there.

Ok, now I've got that off my chest it's back to the normal stuff. I've not done a lot of crafting this week, mainly due to work commitments and other stuff. I have managed to finish another CJ layout, but no pics for that.

Today was another Sue Roddis workshop at the Cubby Hole, working on canvas using copper sheet and wire, as well as paint and stamps, etc. Unfortunatley I had to leave before the workshop finished as I wan't feeling to good, but I'd got all the pieces so I managed to finish it at home. if you want to have a look at the inspiration it's here.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

February revisited

Yesterday was Crop shop day at the Cubby Hole, and it was a good turn-out. Plenty of chat about people's Bank holiday weekends and general catching up.There was a variety of work going on, some people working on archive pages, others working on word books and even a visit from Flat Stanley. My original plan was to have a go at the Beltaine page for my festivals book, but opted to rework my "12 Questions" book instead.

"12 Questions" is one of the current projects on the go at the Cubby Hole. Each month sees a different question to answer using any media that you like. I originally started with a 4x4 mini-book, but found it too restrictive for some of my ideas so I've now reworked it to 6x6. The covers are completed, as are January & February. March is in hand, and I've finally decided on my song for April.

February's Question was "Which famous person would you invite to dinner, and why?". Leonardo da Vinci is my choice. He was a scientific genius and an amazing artist. Plus, his artwork makes fantastic backing papers. The pages are done in sculpted card, and the inset pictures have been framed with embossed copper to give them extra 'lift'.

Last night was spent updating the Cubby Hole site and working on ideas for circle journals, which I'll hopefully be finishing later on today.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Just catching up

Not much crafty stuff today, but I figured it was time I brought things up to date.

The weekend was fabulous, as was to be expected. It was good to meet up with friends again and to meet new people. As usual there was a constant supply of homemade food; cakes, breads, pickles and so on. Apart from the occasional shower the weather was ideal, lovely and sunny with a nice breeze to move the clouds on when they made an appearance.

The Beltaine celebrations were the highlight of the weekend, with the usual activities such as the Green Man, jumping the Bel fire, etc. and as we danced the Maypole at 5am the sun burst through as it always seems to do. I have to admit that I dodged out of the early morning dip in the sea this year and went for breakfast instead. The rest of the day was spent sitting around the Bel fire or walking around the countryside. The most memorable moment was Beltaine Eve listening to Claire’s storytelling, and hearing the sound of the wind playing her harp as it rested on the ground – a wonderfully haunting sound on the edge of your hearing.

I’m back at work now and on a post break slump. There’s not much happening as we’re waiting for the new work to start so the days are slow and dragging, but it gives me time to mooch about on the web a bit and look for ideas. One site I have come across is the Web Gallery of Art, well worth a look.

The only crafty output so far is a birthday card for my grandson. I’m not a great fan of decoupage, but he wanted Bob the Builder, so that’s what he got. The rest of the time has been spent finding bits and pieces ready for this weekend. It’s the monthly crop-shop* on Saturday and I’ve decided to re-do my 12 Questions book in a larger format. I’m still struggling to decide on a song for April’s page but I’ve narrowed it down to three; Barclay James Harvest – In memory of the martyrs, Deep Purple – Soldier of Fortune, or Whitesnake – Here I go again. Hopefully I can narrow it down to one by Saturday.

Right, I suppose I’d better go and do some work.

*Crop shop is an Americanism. In practice it’s a group of us getting together to work on journals/scrapbooks, have a gossip and drink tea.