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Sunday, 23 November 2014

The perfect way...

...to spend a birthday.

The weather was pretty awful but it didn't matter because the company was great and we all enjoyed getting mucky.

Andy ran a similar workshop earlier in the year but this time we were thinking more about Christmas and making a decorative piece for the home or to give as a gift.

Starting with a 12x12 pre-gesso'd canvas we were let loose to rummage through boxes of embellies and dies...
 ...roughly planning out the layout before making a start on the actual piece.

As this was a Christmas piece I wanted to use one of Ignacio's Christmas digi images (Nicecrane Designs) as a focal point on the piece - who better than Santa arriving with the gifts.

Having carefully transferred all the bits & bobs onto a sheet...
...I made a start adding some texture to the canvas using texture paste and stencils...
 ...some brickwork and snowflakes seemed ideal...
 ...and then I started adding some burlap - the texture and the frayed edges create a lot of interest...
 ...and is easy to wrap over to the sides to continue the 'look'.

All the bits & bobs were gradually attached to the canvas and given a good coating of gesso...
 ...a trusty post-it note protected the printed image.

Things never go back onto the canvas in the same layout as you start with - bits get moved and you come across other things that you want to add but it doesn't matter - the idea is to create something that you find pleasing.

Once everything was on and coated with gesso, the whole thing was given a blast with a heat gun to ensure it was completely dry before adding some colour...
 ...I covered everything with acrylic paint and then spritzed with a Tim Holts Distress spray in a brass shade...
 ...the spray is great for getting into all the nooks & crannies that brushes find difficult...
...I then used some gold acrylic paint to dry-brush certain areas to give more depth.

When the light improves a bit, I'll take some pictures of it on the wall.

My friend Hilary went for a red & gold theme...
 ...I love the wooden words that she used.
Tina kept her canvas fairly pale with a slight hint of cream...
 ...and highlighted some areas with a light plum shade.
Andy also played during the workshop...
...and his was a lovely blue & silver scheme with lots of texture.
Tina's daughter decided she didn't want a Christmas piece. So she made her canvas for her bedroom...
...and included the name of her favourite band. The 'firework' effect around the edge was hand painted with a variety of acrylic paints.

Considering we all started with a white canvas, all five pieces ended up very different.

There was a sixth canvas that was sprayed and had five Sizzix lampposts attached to it - that was my birthday present from the class...a starting point for me to have a play with. When I make up my mind what I'm going to add to it, I'll show you all some pictures.

I really enjoyed my day - so thank you to Andy & Pinnacle Crafts and Hilary & my fellow crafters for making my day so special. I had a fabulous time.........................................................

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Today is...

...22 November!

If you have never tried it, you can type a date into Google and find out lots of interesting things. This is a link to what Wikipedia says about 22 November.

It tells you that in 1990, Maggie Thatcher resigned as leader of the Conservative party...

1963 saw the death of C.S. Lewis, the wonderful author who gave us the Narnia tales. However, his death was rather over shadowed by the killing of the USA president J.F. Kennedy...

1958 saw the birth of the USA actress Jamie Lee Curtis...

You can find out so many things on the Internet but one thing Wikipedia doesn't mention is that the 22 day of November is my birthday **big grin**.

The weather may not be great (rain forecast for later) but I have a lovely day planned with fellow crafters at one of Andy Pearson's workshops.

Have a lovely 22 November, whatever you are doing. I know I'm going to enjoy mine..........................

Sunday, 16 November 2014

A quick & easy...

...Christmas gift.

This time of year there are some lovely decorated mugs around but a mug on its own is a bit of a boring gift.

You could knit a "Mug Hug" to add to the gift but then you are covering up the design of the mug - what a waste. Or you may not be a knitter.

So why not dig out some suitable stamps, rubber, clear or digi and make some coasters.

You don't need very much...
...some CS, your colouring medium, something to seal the finished item and some cork. I used a sheet of adhesive backed cork but if you have some old cork tiles hanging around at home - make use of those.
I printed some of the Grace Drayton images onto Kraft CS...
...you can find a lovely selection of these cute images over on the Nicecrane Designs website...
 ...I then coloured them using Spectrum Noir alcohol pens...
...which against the Kraft CS gave a shabby, vintage look to the images.
The images were then trimmed to size and the corners rounded...
...before attaching them to the cork.
Add a couple of pretty mugs...
...and there you have it - a quick and easy gift that shows you have given it a bit of thought as you can 'theme' the designs to suit the folk who will receive it.

You all know that my photography is not the best in the world so the pictures above were taken before I sealed the images - to have to deal with shine as well as shadows in the wrong places was more than I could cope with on a Sunday morning **giggle**

Do hop over to the Nicecrane blog where you will find lots of lovely ideas from the DT and if Grace Drayton images aren't your thing, pay the Nicecrane design site a visit and have a browse - there are images there to suit all tastes...and if you don't colour or haven't the time, there are lots of pre-coloured images that you could use instead. Do hop over there and take a look..................................

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

"Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red"...

...was a line taken from the will of Derbyshire man who fought at Flanders.

This line is now the name of the Remembrance art installation at the Tower of London - created to commemorate the Centenary of the start of WWI.

Multiply one beautiful ceramic poppy by...
...888,246 (the lives lost during that conflict)...
 ...and you have...
 ...a sea of red.
This has been an amazing display and has evoked a level of emotion from the Public that was not expected...
...the daily playing of "The Last Post" amongst this sea of poppies is so very moving.

So with the arrival of the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month let us remember all those who have given their lives to protect this Nation.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.....................

Monday, 10 November 2014

So...

...what else did I get up to this weekend.

Apart from climbing all over my desk setting up a new printer...

I took myself off to one of Andy's workshops over at Pinnacle Crafts. The workshop was "Finishing Touches" - getting ready for Christmas.

We started by making crackers/table gifts using the Tonic Studio large cracker die...
...we each cut 6 from 225gsm white CS. It is at times like this that I wish I had a bigger format die cutting machine - just so I would be able to use some of the super A4 dies that are about. However, my trusty Big Shot is a fabulous sturdy machine that meets most of my needs and I really couldn't justify getting another machine. These crackers are so easy to put together...
...a bit of folding and some Red-line DST on the tabs that cut as part of the die-cut and there were soon piles of completed crackers sitting on the tables...
 ...which then had some ribbon tied around the ends.. I went with a lovely golden cream colour as I wanted them to match in with my brown/gold/copper/cream colour scheme.
Then the die cutting started in earnest...
 ...6 crackers meant 18 decorative panels (the bottom of the crackers wasn't decorated), 12 poinsettias and some 'greenery'. The decorative panels were cut using a Tonic insert die, the poinsettias were cut using the Spellbinders Layered Poinsettia and the greenery was cut using the new Sizzix "Holiday greens". I used white CS, Espresso Glimmer CS (from The Paper Company) and Kraft CS. There were also 18 backing panels to cut...
 ...just look at how the light catches the Glimmer CS and the different colours that can be seen.
The Glimmer panels were attached to the crackers with DST and then the decorative panels were attached using 3D foam...
...some 'greenery', a couple of poinsettias and some gold baubles...
 ...and the crackers were coming together...
 ...I am really loving this colour combination.
Then we made 6 cutlery holders...
 ...the white CS was embossed with an 8x8 embossing folder before being scored & punched to create the envelope shapes. A Kraft CS band and some decoration and all was done.
These will look lovely at each place setting...
 ...on the Christmas table...
 ...I love how the crackers have turned out...
...and I do love this envelope idea for holding the cutlery.

Another busy workshop with lots of cutting and assembly but well worth the effort - thank you Andy for a wonderful day of crafting.

Andy's workshops are always fun and he comes up with some fabulous ideas but then lets you run with your own colour schemes and/or ways of decorating so that everyone goes away with some thing that will suit them. If you would like to see some more of Andy's work, hop on over to his blog here. You can also find him over on the Creative Expressions blog as he has recently joined their DT - look out for Andy Pearson over there on a Wednesday as that seems to be the day when the boys on the DT show what they've been making.

I've another of Andy's workshops to look forward to in two weeks time but that will be it until after Christmas. I wonder what he will have lined up for the new year.......................................................

Sunday, 9 November 2014

New Printer...

...installed and working.

Despite my lack of 'techiness', you will be pleased to note that I bought my new printer, un-packed it and got it installed...all by myself. Yes!

Hope you are sitting down as you read this Suzie as I know this will come as a major surprise to you that I actually managed something like this **chuckle**

Having watched 'Strictly' & 'X Factor', I thought I really shouldn't put the job off any longer and set to. The first thing that I noticed when I opened the box was the fact that there was a USB cable & a power lead - I had asked the assistant if the printer 'came with' as it is also a WIFI capable machine. He had said no to the USB cable and proceeded to try and sell me one. I politely declined as he confirmed (grudgingly) that my existing one would do the job. I would not have been very happy if I had paid for something I didn't need.

I admit that the cable that came with the machine was not overly long but I had been considering a new layout for my desk so got stuck in.

Everything except the PC came off the desk and if you had been a fly-on-the-wall you would have been killing yourself with laughter. My desk is old, large and very heavy so I can not move it on my own and I can not reach the cables from underneath so there I was - kneeling on the desk, fishing for the various cables and hauling them up (trying to identify what related to what).

Anyhoo...

All done, cables somewhat tidier now than they had been and this is how the desk now looks...
...printer and PC are now to the left of the monitor (and easier to access)...
 ...and my 12x12 stacking trays are now over with my pen stack.
Here is the new printer...
 ...which I had to check was working properly...
...so a few taps on the keyboard and...
...perfect.

With Christmas coming and other more important things on the replacement list, I didn't have a lot of spare cash to spend on a printer. So this is probably not an all singing or dancing machine (although it carries out a lot more functions if you set it up to work in WIFI mode). However, it prints onto card - I've only tried 160gsm so far but that is the weight I use for most of my digis and it had no problem dealing with that. The other thing was that I wanted a printer with individual colour carts. I am so fed-up with having to replace a tri-colour cart when I know that only one of the colours has run out.

The assistant in the shop was trying to encourage a sale further up the price range but everything he showed me had tri-colour carts - I think he soon got the message that I wasn't going to be talked into something that I didn't want.

This machine prints, scans & copies. It has individual ink carts and it works. So I am back with printer functions and an extremely tidy desk...............................................................


Thursday, 6 November 2014

It's the most...

...wonderful time of the year.

Now if you are of a certain age and can remember the Andy Williams Christmas Specials that appeared on the TV, you will be humming along to that song the same as I am...

As I was checking my emails this morning, one arrived from Starbucks - advising me that if I went into my local store today and uttered the words "It's the most wonderful time of the year" when I made a purchase I could be lucky and receive a free Christmas mug.

Look what I got...
...not bad for just remembering a line from a song - these normally retail at around £10 and I received it for nothing, zilch, nowt. Did any of you manage to get one?

So once again Starbucks - Thank You - this really is the "Hap, happiest season of all".

I'm doing a happy dance at the moment but hope the tune doesn't stay in your head for too long **chuckle**....................................................................................................................