Tuesday, 30 June 2009

It's the simple things in life.

It’s back to work today with batteries recharged after a truly wonderful weekend.

I’ve spent the last four days in a field on Exmoor. A small field, next to a stream, with a small stone circle around a fire-pit.
There was no mobile phone signal, no electricity, and just a few basic facilities in another field which was reached over a little creaky wooden bridge.

There were also people, around 60 of us all told, from young kids to a few who could be classed as elders (although it was sometimes hard to tell the difference). All drawn together to celebrate the good things in life; good food and drink, music and laughter – lots of laughter. I won’t bore you with all the details, but we learned from each other, those with a skill sharing it freely, whether it was making something crafty, or making music. We celebrated the handfasting of two of our friends, and in the evening we danced barefoot under the stars to the sounds of real music (even those of us who can’t dance).

I’m now sat here listening to the hum of the air-con and the rattle of a fan, trying to catch a glimpse of the outside world through the blinds and ignore the grumbling of others, but a part of me is still sat with the grass between my toes.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Geisha, and a never-ending story

Being on leave is good for the soul. Apart from not being stuck in the office, it also gives you chance to play catch-up with your crafting :)

First up is the latest entry for CJ3. This is the last round of this journal so we’re all trying to bring them to a suitable close. As they are all entitled ‘Once upon a time’, I suppose it should end with “and they all lived happily ever after”. But that would be too obvious.
This one begins with you finding a cupboard in an old shop and being whisked off to another land (who said Narnia?). Each chapter ends with you stepping into or out of a doorway of some kind to find yourself somewhere else with no idea what’s coming up (does Quantum Leap ring any bells?). I don’t know if that was the way the story was supposed to go, but it did.
For my chapter you find yourself back in the shop; having encountered Ice Queens, fairies, gypsies, wolves and a circus. There’s also a wedding planner. Oh, and Dr Who put in an appearance as well. As the saying goes “Follow that”, so I did. There’s a brief explanation of what you’ve encountered (nothing too specific) and a choice of what to do next – go back to normal life, or go back to the wardrobe. I wonder which you chose?

Next up is my interpretation of June’s ATC theme ‘Geisha’. I thought at one point that this was also going to be a bit of a never-ending story. I think the finished article is actually Plan D, but it could be E.
I wanted to produce something which resembled Japanese lacquer work, a deep shine with a simply coloured image. The original plan was a couple of layers of red embossing covered by a couple of coats of clear embossing, and then embed the image under 2 more clear coats to give depth. I started with mountboard to take the heat without buckling, but it wouldn’t take the glue.
On to Plan B, my thickest card. That was ok until I added the printed images. It was obvious they were printed. Plan C, paint the images. That worked until I embossed over them and the colours ran.
Ah well, Plan D. Print the cards with background and image, and then build up layers of clear embossing. That worked and looks good (unfortunately the scanner doesn’t bring out the shine or the depth). Add the Geisha Kanji in gold leaf pen and it’s done (apart from a small technical hitch). The problem with using built up layers of embossing is the heat. At present the finished cards are clamped down in a press to get them flat again. When I get back from camping they should be ok for handing out :)

Saturday, 20 June 2009

It's a man thing

Well, it's Saturday night and here I am again. I really should arrange my life so that I go out at weekends, and not during the week but I might get complaints from my regular readers (yeah, right).

It's been a good week crafty wise. I managed
to get CJ4 done, but forgot to take a pic before handing it in. Ah well, you'll just have to use your imaginations. I've also been card making this week, and it's the thing that a lot of crafters dread - cards for men. Not boys, or teenagers but the grown-up type. The problem is that while there is more stuff for other cards than you can shake a stick at, when it comes to men's cards things are pretty thin on the ground. There's the ubiquitous sports/cars stuff, and comedy 'man-with-pint' images, but that's about it really.

I needed two cards. One for a friend's
birthday, and one for Father's day. A while ago I managed to find some 12x12 papers which are quite masculine so I've got something to base the cards on. Throw in some metallic card, screw heads and some copper brads and you have the two cards on display here.

Current mojo level is active, but not on overdrive, which is fine as I'm on leave for 10 days so there's plenty of time to catch up with crafty stuff. Tonight it's Australian Shiraz, Green & Black's chocolate and a laid-back jazz compilation. Mellowness prevails :)

Night all.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Learning the piano

Not the type you play, the one you read.

Another Saturday, and another excellent workshop at the Cubby Hole with Sue "Jabberwocky" Roddis. Today was another workshop continuing the theme of hand-made books. This week it was the turn of the Piano book, so called because the hinge looks like a piano hinge. In very basic terms it's several pieces of card held together with wooden skewers, but there's more to it than that. We started with an A6 size notebook, and then moved on to an A5 sized fully decorated book which would make an excellent card for somebody special. This is my finished book, and not a hint of brown or green anywhere :D

This week has been like working in kindergarten at times with certain people snitching about how much work other people aren't doing, or how long they are spending on lunch, or.......
Just when I'd reached the end of my tether, my faith in human nature was restored by a complete stranger. A few weeks ago I joined in a crafty swap on the forum at Crafts by Carolyn. Everybody else has received their swaps but mine never arrived so I assumed it had been lost in the post. Yesterday I received a call from a lady called Angelina. I bought some crafty bits from her last year on ebay, and I used the jiffy-bag for the CBC swap. When it was posted back Royal Mail managed to get the addresses mixed up and it went to her by mistake.
She could have kept it, or binned it, but instead she tracked down my number (I use my works address for ebay) and called me to see where I wanted it sending! I hope she includes her address as I have a nice thank you card and some chocolate to send - no good deed goes unpunished :)

Anyway, for those who are interested tonights menu is a nice Spanish Red, Evanescence and prepping B&W photos for CJ4. Such excitement ;)

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Just a short crafty entry today. I had thought
of adding some deep and meaningful waffle, but it would probably have turned into a mini-rant, so I'll leave it as just pretty pictures for now.

I'm slowly catching up with my crafty stuff that's overdue. After getting my Questions book up to April, I've now managed to get my ATCs back on schedule. These are May's (only 10 days behind). Nothing too fancy, just some glittery embossing on a printed spiral and a red shoe button from ebay. All I've got left now is May's question, a Beltaine page for the Festival book, Circle Journal 4, a couple of birthday cards, CJ3, ......

Sunday, 7 June 2009

A weekend of two halves

I've been trying to write this since about 11 this morning but it's one of those days. I've been up for 8 hours and apart from mooching about the web and compiling tonight's quiz all I've managed to do is watch the Grand Prix (apart from the bit where I fell asleep).

Yesterday was the complete opposite. Up early, plenty of energy and raring to go. Out the door by 9 to get some shopping done before heading to the Cubby Hole for the crop-shop. There were a couple of new faces yesterday which always good to see, and a good cross-section of things being worked on; wedding pics, kids, memories of France and so on. I'd taken along my 12 questions book to try and catch up. I've managed to get March and April done so not too bad. Normally I work out roughly what I'm going to do beforehand, and take along pictures and text printed off the PC, as well as any embellishments and papers that I might need. I did that for April's page but March was done straight from the top of my head (scary!).

March - What inspires you?
I originally did this page in the original small book, and it's one of the reasons I decided to start again in a larger format. The original 4x4 layout was too small, too bare and was just 'wrong'. The only thing I kept was the 4 headings; Life, Nature, People and Beliefs. I've had a couple of ideas for it but they didn't work. The last one was to try one of those 'Word clouds' that seem to be all the rage on the web nowadays but it still didn't look right.
I started yesterday with a couple of pieces of card, chalks, inks, a couple of pens and just started writing down words and doodling. From somewhere came the idea of flowers and the rest just followed. Once I'd got the page done it was a case of going through the words I'd come up with and adding them to one of the flowers. Some were easy; seasons goes to nature, crafters goes to people, but where do you put love, laughter, tears? By lunchtime it was completed, and after a quick break it was on to April.

April - What song is the soundtrack to your life
Another easy one - not! I've spent weeks trying to answer this. The obvious choice would be Freebird, but it's not my soundtrack - more like my theme tune. I'd hear something in a song and think "that's it", but then look at the whole song and bin it. In memory of the Martyrs is one of the first one's I came up with, but I kept rejecting it as too 'deep' or 'arty' or any other reason, even though I liked it, but mainly because I'd hate to think of myself as a martyr (although we all are from time to time I suppose). Finally I gave in, and used it.
The first verse is me now; enjoying life, saying "Yes" instead of "No", trying to stay positive and ignore the down sides of life.
The second verse is the old me. The me that grew up constrained by others; parents, job, wife, kids, etc. If I was offered a chance to do something my first thoughts were how it would affect others, would they object, and so on. I still do it occasionally, but usually after I've already said "Yes".
The last verse is the future, for all of us. Whether we like it or not, the green grass will cover us all.
Once I'd got the words printed out it didn't take long to put the pages together, and even better - there's not an earth tone in sight :)

Last night I was still in crafty mood. I'd picked up a copy of Flight 666 and a nice Italian Rosé, so spent a pleasant evening listening to Iron maiden, sipping wine and sketching out ideas for today. Ah well, the ideas are still there for next week.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Spidery mojo

After the mojo rush of the weekend I've had a couple of blank crafty days this week. The ideas have been lurking but wouldn't transfer themselves into anything creative. Anyway, we have a book circle going on at the Cubby Hole and Monday is the next gathering. One of the things we decided was that we'd do something crafty each month (as well as read a book) and this month it was to make a book mark. I'd originally intended to stitch one but couldn't get into it.

For a while now, spiders seem to have featured in my life in one way or another (those who know me from UKP or read my Live Journal will know what I'm on about). Today I was mooching around the web and I came across the Arachne image, and the Picasso quote and I was off. A bit of glossy paper and stazon, some clear embossing, a quick pass through the cuttlebug and voila!