Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Bank Holiday Walking


Well not much was going on here this bank holiday (no transport available for any jolly outings) so when the sun came out I took a walk to the cemetery.  Its a lovely walk, especially at this time of year when the lanes are lined with beautiful swathes of Ladies' Lace and the hills are clear and close after rain.


Along the way I found many of my favourite wild flowers.  Here are a few you might recognise - well actually I've named them for you.


I was happy to see these bluebells were our own British variety not the invading European bells which are usually seen in hedgerows and verges near gardens these days.  Although most of these wild flowers do turn up in my semi wild garden I've never seen Bluebells there but there are dozens of the blue and white bells from 'The Continent'.  Still, I can't complain, they are quite pretty, but like daffodils their leaves have to be left to die back naturally to feed the bulbs for next year.  Can't wait to cut them off - they do look so untidy.


I often wonder why my garden looks so untidy while the farmers manage to keep their land looking so neat and tidy.  Lots of very hard work I suppose.


Its not a long walk, about two and a half miles there and back.  And its on the flat, which is unusual round here. But it was a warm afternoon so I casted my clout - after all the May was most definitely out! 


Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Gelatos - yes, I thought it was ice cream too!


I sometimes like to watch a couple of crafty Youtubes when I'm having my tea and happened to catch Melissa Phillips' Make it Monday for Papertrey Ink a couple of weeks ago. I was really taken with her colouring technique using Faber Castell Gelatos - a product I'd never come across of before. I ordered a set from the excellent Local Art Shop website as my 'local art shop' didn't stock them.


They arrived in double quick time and I had a go copying Melissa's technique. I stamped my first card in pastel colours and, as in the video, gingerly added the gelato colour with a piece of paper towel.  The effect was really pretty so on my next card I went a bit bolder with the colour.



There are lots of colours in the gelato range but you can 'mix' them to get the shade you need. I was able to get the right green for the leaves on my bold card by adding yellow over the lime green you can see in the box.  I love how these turned out.  Now I need to find other ways of using my new Gelatos - Youtube here I come!

Stamps used: Papertrey Ink: Honey Bee; Green Thumb; Background Basic Super Gingham

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Quick & Easy Gifty Ideas



I always need quick and easy projects I can make for the occasional craft fair I attend.  What's needed is something quick and inexpensive to produce out of supplies I've already got and that I can sell at a low price. Hopefully to draw in customers who might then make multiple purchases - isn't that what supermarkets do!

Anyway - whilst browsing in The Works craft section a few weeks ago I found these pretty sticky backed fabric sheets - £1.99 for a pack of four different designs - and the idea of these little brooches came into my head.


They couldn't be easier to make. I drew round the wooden shapes on the paper backing of the fabric and cut out just inside the pencil line. You can carefully cut off any overlaping edges with a sharp scissors but its better to get the size right on the first stick! I gave the fabric a coat of Mod Podge but watered down PVA glue would be just as good. Glue on a brooch back and present on a stamped card. These will make an appearance at my next fair whenever that is - I've nothing booked at the moment - but they'd also make pretty last minute token gifts don't you think?

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Paper Pinwheels


I made a bunch of paper windmills for a craft fair last week.  I know, I used the American word pinwheel in the title of this post, but it rhymed better - sorry!  I saw the dies at Make the Day Special - unfortunately out of stock at the moment but there are others on the market. When they arrived I realised the windmills were mean for cards and papercraft decorations and would not spin - a bit disappointing.  Anyway not to be thwarted I decided to try and make them spin - which is what windmills are meant for aren't they!


I have to admit it was a bit fiddly but eventually I worked it out and thought I'd share.  Hope this makes sense.  I've numbered the steps to go with the photos above.
  1. I used wooden kebab sticks you can find easily in supermarkets.  A hole is needed but they split easily when the awl is pushed through so a piece of tape (I used washi tape) wrapped round the top before you make the hole stops the splitting.
  2. I die cut the pieces from double sided scrapbooking papers. If you want to make a 'bunch' a pad of paper will ensure all the papers will look nice together.
  3. Arrange 6 pieces in a wheel (a pin helps keep them together) and hold them in place with finger and thumb.
  4. I found it best to staple the pieces together in the middle - if you don't do this you will find it very frustrating getting them to stay together for the next step. I used my Tim Holtz Tiny Attacher bought on a whim but I've found it SO useful - LOVE IT!
  5. I had some pearl headed florists' pins but any long pin with a head will do - there are lots of different designs on the market but a ball head is required here. You need to add something decorative for the centre of the windmill and a small bead which will enable the spinning. I had these flower shape sequiny things I thought I'd never find a use for (NEVER throw anything away!).
  6. Gently shape the pieces with your fingers as in the photo.  This will make it easier to get the pin through all the pieces and the hole in the centre. I'm not going to kid you, its rather fiddly getting everything on the pin but practice makes perfect! Add another couple of small beads to the pin at the back.
  7. I've used a clothespeg to hold the windmill on the pin in the photo - otherwise it will jump off! Make sure you hold everything on and push the back and front slightly together but only a LITTLE BIT.
  8. Poke through the hole in your wooden stick and bend the pin down at a right angle with a pair of pliers. I thought children might want these so I cut the sharp end of the pin off with wire cutters.
  9. Finally wrap another piece of tape round the pin end to tape it to the stick.

Ta-da your windmill. Give it a sharp puff to make it spin. Well, I have to admit they don't spin as well as those you buy in the shops but they do and they look very pretty in a jar on the windowsill.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

HAPPY EASTER!


Happy Easter all! Its been a miserable Easter here in North Wales so far - but the perfect time for crafting without the guilt of staying indoors! Love this illustration from an Enid Blyton Holiday book though I really can't work out what the girl is offering the little chick - a worm perhaps??

I recently treated myself to a Free Motion Stitching workshop at The Coach House. I've struggled to find time to practise much since and I really really want to improve on what I learnt from the delightful and hugely talented tutor Fliss Owens.  But I have finished one project and yesterday started another.......


I made my first embroidered picture into a peg bag as I much prefer things I make to have a practical use rather than just sticking them on the wall or leaving them in a pile on the side.  And guess what, the sun has suddenly broken through the cloud cover so maybe I can use it this morning!!!!


My picture was inspired by this little sketch in Rebecca Crompton's Modern Design in Embroidery published in 1936.  Rebecca, Kathleen Mann and Priscilla M Warner are embroidery heroines of mine and I've been lucky enough to collect a lovely library of books by them full of gorgeous inspirational work and advice, mostly at very modest prices. However for some reason this book of Rebecca's commands a very high price so when I saw it on sale as what I thought was a very reasonable amount I jumped at it and was not disappointed when it arrived. If you are curious I've a Pinterest board of their work you might like to look at here.


I'll definitely be dipping into it for inspiration for my next creation. Lastly here are a few photos from our class at the Coach House last month, including my very first attempt - the flower in a pot. Although I wasn't happy with it as I was creating the embroidery, Fliss was right when she said it would turn out fine and I really liked it once it was finished and sewn into a lavender sachet.


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Easter Cheap Cheap!


If you watch my Plowmen's Clocks facebook page you may have noticed I changed my banner to a herd of origami bunnies for Easter.  I wanted to make some decorations for the window of the Greyhound Rescue charity shop where I volunteer but didn't want to spend much money.  The bunnies were the first thing I thought of. I used a pad of quite thin pastel coloured craft paper I found at Poundland and a simple instruction video - you can find it here.


Don't they look cute all lined up on this lovely table.  I also made the banner you can see in the top photo. I printed out the letters as big as would fit on an A4 sheet (using an outline font I found in my word processing programme), cut them out, laminated them and strung them on cotton twine.


Next I wanted to add some egg decorations but couldn't find any I liked cheap enough so back again to Poundland where I bought two bags of polystyrene eggs and a packet of pretty tissue paper.


If you want a cheap Easter too here's how I did them. To make it easier and less of a sticky process I stuck the eggs on wooden kebab sticks. Cut strips of tissue paper about three quarters of an inch wide and tear them into pieces about 2 inches long. Use a brush to paint the egg with watered down PVA glue. Make it about the consistency of single cream.


Starting at the bottom stick the strips on using the brush to smooth down the paper and at the same time coating with the glue. Carry on layering the strips until the egg is covered nicely.


Leave them to dry somewhere warm. The tissue is very thin so don't be too rough with the brush. When they dry the paper will shrink a little making a smoother covering but they will still look handmade.



Then decide how you want to display them. I wanted to thread them onto twine to hang down in the window. I used a long doll making needle to pierce and thread twine through the egg.



Lastly I used paper punches to create some quick flower shapes and to make the job even quicker I stapled two flowers back to back between the eggs onto the twine, making sure I didn't trap the twine so I could slide them evenly into position.


I think they look quite effective in the window - you can just about see them in the top photo.  So was that cheap enough for you? Total outlay £4 for the pad of paper, two bags of eggs and a packet of tissue paper.  All from Poundland's Easter range.  Everything else I already had in my craft stash. Poundland also had some lovely little craft projects for the kiddos - I couldn't resist and hope our lot wouldn't have preferred chocolate eggs.


I have to say I was quite impressed with the range on offer.  All very pretty in spring-like colours. I loved the traditional yellow "pipecleaner chicks" and they had black and white lambs too. Hypocritical I know, but I just don't like to think about how much the manufacturers paid their workers to produce such lovely items at such a low cost!!!

Friday, 20 March 2015

First Day of Spring and a Total Eclipse of the Sun...


 As all we crafters know, one should never throw anything away! I managed to find these eclipse shades last used in 1999 and tried to get a shot through them as my basic digi camera could not cope with the sun - it was not very successful.  However we were lucky with the weather, the clear sky dimmed eerily and the gulls seemed rather confused, so on the First Day of Spring, International Happiness Day, and Solar Eclipse Day I was happy with that!
 

 And we were lucky as just as the shadow of the moon was moving away from the sun the clouds drifted over.  Looking forward to 2026!!!!!


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