Monday 11 December 2023

Foam Flowers

 It's a long time since I posted anything here: things have been busy, and most of my crafting seems aimed at the u3a craft group I belong to. But here are a couple of independent projects I've completed using flower foam.

My most recent flower project: I bought a metal wreath base from Hobbycraft, covered it in ribbon and then added a variety of flowers and leaves. The greenery was made using Susan Tierney-Cockburn dies and flower foam from a variety of manufacturers. I've used florist's wire and tape, and had to use rather different means of assembling the various flowers compared to paper, but it was an interesting experience, as was relying on hot glue! I've used Sharpies to get extra colour on the flowers and styrofoam balls (from The Works) coloured red to add to the holly..

Very similar to the wreath in most respects, although the roses use a Sizzix Bigz die for the blooms. The 'vase' is made using a Tonic die set I've had just about forever!

And finally, a trial for something I might attempt next year. My mum's favourite flowers were freesia. Susan Tierney-Cockburn's die dies a good job of recreating the shape, and I love that they're so multi-coloured in real life. I don't get the chance to visit the cemetery where my parents are buried very often, so can't really put fresh flowers there, but I'm going to try to put something together to take up for my next visit, and at least, they should last a little while. (The site is on a hillside overlooking the Clyde and a little windswept so a little while is all I can hope for!)

Friday 10 November 2023

Flowers and Scrabble Letters

 My son and his partner recently moved into a new house. It's been a longish haul for them. Their first sale/flat they wanted fell through, mainly due to intransigence of both the other parties. Their buyer wanted to move quickly or he would pull out. The owner of the property they wanted insisted they had to go away for a month, and when they got back, they'd start looking for a rental property and only then would they be ready to complete on the sale. And all this was after nine months of wrangling when the legalities were all complete. So, it all fell apart and they waited for a couple of years before trying again. This time, they went for a new-build house, and they finally moved!

To mark the occasion, I made a framed picture. I don't expect it to be displayed forever - and I fully expect they'll repurpose the frame, but it's only intended to be short term.

The frame is from Hobbycraft. I used stencils and a variety of inks for the background, with some stamped, heat embossed butterflies too.

The 'Scrabble' letters were made using Tonic dies. The flowers are Susan Tierney-Cockburn designed dies from several manufacturers. The dark green foliage was cut using dies from The Works. The butterfly is layered and cut using Spellbinders dies.

This is the first time I've used the Rhododendron die set. I'm a little disappointed, as, although it looks fine, I don't think it's particularly realistic, which is unusual for Susan's designs. Although that may be because the instructions for making this flower are no longer available, so I had to use techniques from other flowers and hope for the best.

I do quite like the addition of orangey 'greenery'. I think it just adds something to the overall effect and helps with balance especially with a greeny-blue background.

Monday 1 May 2023

Inky Blending and Masking

 Last year, we did a session on inky blending, and the group wanted to do a similar session this term. We used Distress Inks for backgrounds, stencils for texture, stamps stamped with Versafine Clair ink for focal points. Stencils are from Clarity, Creative Expressions, Crafter's Companion, and Lavinia and stamps from Lavinia, Inkylicious, Woodware, and Spellbinders.












Our next session will be led by Adrienne and we're going to start some decoupage projects. I hope I can post the results in a few weeks.

Wednesday 22 March 2023


 I've made a few cards this week, all for reasons you'd prefer not to have for making cards.

First, a card I made for a friend who's due to go into hospital for surgery:

I used a Sizzix die set for the owl, and an Elizabeth Craft set for the oval. The papers are from a magazine. I cut an aperture out of the paper-covered front of the card and placed the mounted owl into the space.

And the inside of the card. Paper is the reverse of the piece I used on the front of the card. Excuse my fingers in the top photo. I couldn't get it to lie flat enough!

And then, a couple of sympathy cards.

In both cards, the focal image is from Lavinia and the sentiment is Woodware. I've also used a couple of Aall and Create stencils, and in the top card, also a Woodware background text stamp. I masked the sentiment panel with removeable tape before adding Distress Ink. The top image was stamped in Versamark and embossed with clear powder. The lower card has the image stamped in Versafine Clair, as were the sentiments in both cards.

Friday 17 March 2023

Hand Made Flowers, Frame and Stitching

 I recently treated myself to a couple of the discontinued Elizabeth Craft/Susan Tierney Cockburn die sets, and I wanted to make something a little different with them. One of the sets is actually an oval nesting set, but with some bigger dies than I have. I got the original sets of Spellbinders Nestibilities, but the problem with them was always that the format was too small. I think their US bias got stuck on that odd 'A2' size card they use which isn't standard anywhere else. So, even for A6 cards, their dies just didn't look quite right. But enough of that.

The first part of the project was to cut out the frame elements. For them, I used an Elizabeth Craft die I've had for some time. It's smaller than I'd like, so I stretched the pieces to approximately 9 and 11 inches long giving me a frame with a 7 by 9 inch aperture. I always get it wrong when I do this - one piece of card ends up in the bin during the process, and this time was no exception.

Because the black card I used isn't the best quality, I reinforced the underside of the front panels with strips of the same black card before pricking out the stitching pattern. The pattern I used came from a book I've had for many years called The Art of Decorative Paper Pricking by Janet Wilson. It's not really intended for stitching, and it's not even one of the patterns in the book - it's actually used as page decoration. But, with a little resizing in Photoshop Elements, I got it to a suitable size, and printed out a strip for each frame edge. I used Sulky Blendables to stitch the pattern.

Another recent (bargain) purchase, is the embossing folder I used here. I don't use A4 embossing folders often, but when you want to emboss a bigger area, smaller ones won't do the job. I got his folder (from Crafts Too) at Crafterama at Ally Pally last weekend. I embossed a bit of Coredinations Whitewash card I've had for ages. (I don't even know if it's still on the market.) I sanded the surface after embossing. I had to add another layer of card behind the Coredinations as it was a bit floppy - especially after embossing.

The next stage was to cut some corners for the frame (Spellbinders die - it's one of their debossing range that never really took off. I definitely found them very hard to cut with - fortunately, there's not much actual cutting needed for this corner die. I then cut another piece of the satin gold card and used the Elizabeth Craft oval die to cut the aperture. I then embossed the gold card using the same folder, and attached it with foam pads doubled up for extra height.

Then, I got to the really fun part. I cut pieces for three dahlias in white card and coloured using Promarkers. I added some striping (white on the shocking pink flower and magenta on the yellow) using fine Posca pens. The peach coloured flower has some added magenta promarker added to the petal tips for a bit of added colour.

That's about that!

A little word about Ally Pally last weekend. It was the first time I've been back since Covid lockdowns, and, of course, since it changed ownership. I think it's a real shame many of the exhibitors who used to go to Ally Pally haven't continued. Craft shops in London are pretty much limited to Hobbycraft - especially since Blade Rubber Stamps closed down. It's strange that such a large conurbation can't support a bigger show than this. I know it's probably more expensive because of generally higher London prices, but it's a real shame. Having said that, I did buy a few bits, and it was lovely to see a stall with just Aall and Create which was definitely something new for me. Unfortunately, my daughter wasn't well enough to come with me :(

Wednesday 8 March 2023

Easter and Anniversary Cards

 The first few are Easter cards from patterns by Stitching Cards.

This is a new pattern from Stitching Cards. I thought it was cute!

And an older, although new-to-me pattern.

And a couple of cards from a company called Form a Line. They've got quite a few free patterns, and in fact, I think the designer is the same as for Stitching cards. In both cases, I've used the free Stitching Cards font to add, or in one case, change the greeting.

This one was just the floral wreath.

And this one originally had a Happy Birthday greeting which I replaced. All the stitched cards used machine embroidery thread.

Stamping this time, and not a clear stamp in sight! The central image is a stamp by Crafty Individuals. Once it was stamped, I masked it, and then added further images using stamps from Stamperia (music and the right hand lace strip) and U Mount (butterflies) and the crackle (Crafty Individuals again). All images were stamped with Verrsafine Clair in Acorn. The background shading was added with Distress Ink. I added further colour to various elements using pastel pencils. The background paper came from a CDRom I've had for a very long time called Crafty Image Emporium. I tweaked the colour in Photoshop elements. 

And finally, an anniversary card for my OH. The background was made ages ago and not used. There's Distress Ink, a stencil and a stamp involved there. The diamond shapes were cut using Spellbinders Nestibilites. I added a gold border using an acrylic paint pen. The digits were cut using a die set from, I think, The Works. The sentiment was stamped using a pre-inked stamp I've had for a very, very long time. I bought it before I was comfortable stamping! I added some colour to the leafy bit using a Posca pen.

See what happens when you're planning to be out all day, and then the weather means you have to stay in and craft instead!

Monday 20 February 2023

A Special Birthday Card

 I had to make a card for a special birthday.  I'd seen someone using the Lavinia Lillium stamp as a partial background recently - I think it was on the Lavinia group on Facebook, but I wasn't planning on using it when I saw it, so I didn't not the originator. Anyway, that's how I started.

I made the card base approximately 8in square, and I've created a vine effect with the Sizzix/Susan Tierney Cockburn Beeblossom die, along with a couple of other branch dies from other Susan Tierney Cockburn set from other manufacturers. I coloured the flowers with Promarkers, adding some detail with Pan Pastel. The leaves were made using olive green card. I stamped the Lillium with Versafine Clair ink, and coloured the blooms with Promarker, then outlined them with an fine Posca pen. You can't see it in the photo, but I finished the flowers by adding a layer of clear glitter marker (Crafter's Companion). I created a suitable sentiment in Photoshop Elements and cut it and a mat with a Spellbinders die set. The stamped area was shaded with Distress Ink in Tattered Rose and Spun Sugar. I added a darker shade around the whole edge using Picked Raspberry (which I originally misread as Pickled Raspberry, and that's how I always think of it!) I've digitally removed the sentiment for the photo.

I made a couple of insert pages using similar techniques.

Beeblossom is quite a dimensional flower, so there's no way this card was going into an envelope. Therefore, the next stage was to make a box. I used 12 by 12 white card to make a basic lid and tray box which I decorated to match the card. Again, I've digitally removed the recipient's name.

I added an oval label area with a mask, and a little background texture with Tattered Rose ink and a Lavinia stencil.

Needle Cases

 At my craft group, someone showed a needle case they'd been given and wondered if we could do something similar. I had a think, and decided to go with an Eileen Hull Bigz die.

My first attempt was ok, but there were a couple of things I decided to change.

I also used some very old Sizzix dies for the scissors, needle and thread which I cut out of rose gold Sizzix Surfacez. (What's the singular of that?) Anyway, my base here was 300gsm card, and I covered it with a scrap of cloth I've had knocking around for ages. I cut some felt remnants I had through the die too, but using folded felt on the die up to the first fold line. The result had a few issues. First, the cover is quite floppy. Not a major issue, but not what I wanted. The other thing is that, using the die to cut the felt resulted in pages that were a bit too big. They fit, but polyester felt is quite stretchy, and the result just didn't look neat enough for me. I used double-sided sticky sheets to adhere the fabric, and finished it off with some lace and elastic cord to make a closure.

My second attempt I tried something a bit different, and I'd also bought some new felt so I could choose colours to fit!

This time, I used some grey board - in fact it was the back of an old notepad. That gave a much firmer basis. For decoration, this time, I used some ribbon, and then a Tonic die from its Sew Pretty range which I decorated with metallic gold thread.

This time, I cut the felt by hand. This gave a wonkier result, but the needle case itself looks much better.

I took a bit of the offcut from the cover (grey board covered in fabric both sides) and cut it to make a loop as show. I adhered it with tacky glue. I think I need to come up with a better option (elastic maybe?) as the scissors fall out if the case is upside-down. I'll continue to give it some thought!

Friday 27 January 2023

A Couple of Stitching Cards Creations

 My February family cards are done. While perusing the Stitching Cards website, I spotted a sweet dog pattern that was ideal for my son's birthday. He'd love to own a dog, but  isn't in a position to look after one.

This is one of the hardest patterns of theirs that I've done - mainly because of the irregular shapes and holes shared between sections. I felt that the thread I used (a Sulky varigated thread) didn't provide sufficient contrast, so I outlined the various sections in back stitch. I added the frame  in gold Anchor thread which is not part of the original pattern. I created a z fold card in A5 size, and decorated with some Papermania patterned paper I've had forever.

The second card for February is a Valentine card for my OH. We always stick to the pretence of anonymity, and this design was perfect.

A much easier pattern to follow. The only complication was working out which holes were for which letter! Again, I've used some Sulky varigated thread, but the black is a machine embroidery thread, and the gold is Anchor. Another z fold A5 card, but this time, I created the background paper using a variety of Distress Ink and stencils.

Stitching cards provide quite a few free patterns which are great to try. You will need access to a printer, or someone who can print for you. The paid patterns are £1.30 each, and you can 'bulk buy' at a cheaper rate. The only issue I have is that they don't do square patterns. I prefer square cards, and while you can use rectangular patterns on a square card, in this case, it would have to be 8 by 8in as the stitched section is quite long. (It would fit on a 5 by 7in, but it wouldn't allow much room for layering.) You could print smaller than the original, but you run the risk of having holes too close together causing holes to join up.

Friday 20 January 2023

Some Flowers for Winter

 Since International Art and Soul is no longer publishing challenges, I need to remember to post things I've done independently. Call it a New Year Resolution, if you like, although some projects get published on my craft group blog: Crafty Harrow Ladies . So, what have I been up to lately?

I picked up a Spellbinders waterfall card die in the post Christmas sales and used it to make a card using stamps from Creative Crafting magazine.

And also in the sales, I picked up a couple of new Susan Tierney Cockburn dies. Each time she has a new collection, I try to pick up options I don't already have, and this time I got Beeblossom and Spirea which I combined with various ferns and stems and a rather oddly coloured gazania. (I'm a crafter, not a gardener, so I make flowers to suit even if they don't exist in nature!)

 The actual image area is about 7 by 7 and the frame 9 by 9 in. I embossed the background using a Crafter's Companion folder, and made the frame by extending from a Elizabeth Craft die. I used a stencil to give the front of the frame a little colour on the slightly gold tinged cream cardstock. I coloured most of the card using either Promarkers or Distress Ink and added some detail with Pan Pastel and liquid pearl.


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