Concertina books … Have fun with squares, rectangles, circles!

Ever wondered what to do with oddments of wrapping paper, patterned envelopes, prints and paper?
How about having a go at making one of these? They’re easier than they look.

The mini one requires 8 squares measured at about 8cm across; the spiral book requires three A3 sheets cut in half lengthwise.

If anyone is interested in a pictorial tutorial, please comment below and I’ll put one together :–). Simples!
The last image, showing the spiral book closed, is part of a pack of happy mail going off to Spain.


Random Craft Swap

How much do you love receiving gifts in the mail? Do you clutch the unopened envelope for ages and try and guess what’s inside? What about receiving something handcrafted? The person sending has taken a lot of thought into creating something special and unique. They’ve considered what the other person might like. When I started on a craft to swap I went over to Gladeridercrafts blogger’s page – check it out as there’s some gorgeous stitching on there! We did a random craft swap this week and I was so excited when my craft packet arrived.


Isn’t it lovely? Thank you so much Gladeridercrafts πŸ™‚

Also this week, I opened the post at work to find my OH had sent me a large padded envelope with the word fragile written on it! I would never have guessed what was inside…a box of Matchmakers – I love these chocolates!

It made me giggle just like a few years ago when I had a postie calling card to collect a packet from the depot. When I arrived with my ID, the postman looked at me apologetically as he handed over the mail.
‘Should it feel like that?’ He asked.
I admit it did feel as though the contents had smashed. Also, as I hadn’t ordered or been expecting anything, I had no idea what it was. The contents shifted and chinked beneath the padded envelope. I gulped.
Finally, As I sat in the car, I opened the packet to find 200 buttons of all different colours (nothing broken or smashed) inside. Lovely!

So, what have I posted out this week? Well two lucky people received handprinted fabric goodies: an ATC

and an expanding notebook


That was fun πŸ˜€

Another day; another stamp

There’s a deer park not far from where we live. I love to see them out, dipping their antlers. They also look so graceful when the snow’s falling.
I did a very quick biro sketch and then created a smaller version on a 2cm x 1cm white rubber.


Now, eleven stamps later, I have enough to put inside a shape:

This was a bit of fun as I was able to display all the stamps I’ve created so far :-).

Drawing and story a day #3

Ever forgotten something on a really important day? How about forgetting to put a 35mm film in the camera for your engagement party? We did. Many years ago my father gave me a Fujica camera for my birthday while studying for my ‘A’ Level art and design. He’s an avid photographer who likes to do nature shots of flowers and he’s got a multitude of boat pictures in his collection of slides and displayed in photo albums.
When it came to the momentous occasion of doing a studio photo shoot for my future husband, one of the 35mm reels of film jammed in the camera and without a darkroom, my future father-in-law thought he was being helpful by opening up the back (big no-no as the light destroys the film). Both my boyfriend and I stood mouth agape at the unravelled roll dangling from the back of the camera like the intestines of a cadaver during autopsy.
Later, during our engagement party, we snapped away photo after photo of the cake and the riotous game of skittles only to find that we’d forgotten to include a camera film when it was too late. The drawing of the Fujica camera was an attempt at creating a picture without removing the fineliner pen from the page. There were occasions when I did have to lift the pen though, such as for the lettering to be readable! It was tricky gauging the right dimensions and trying to keep to scale (reason for wonky lens).

My son, now also an avid photographer, enjoys using the Canon and I’ve watched him create and delete photos he’s not happy with and I’ve observed the glee on his face when he’s captured that perfect moment: sunsets and portraits, deer feeding while surrounded by ground frost. I wonder how he’d get on with a 35mm film in a camera where you can’t check the shot and then have to wait a fortnight for it to be developed and printed like back in the 80s? I hope he likes the rubber stamp I cut this evening for him. He can use it over and over again on letter heads or business cards … Or he can use the eraser and gradually the camera will fade away! Lol!
Meanwhile camera fans who read this blog might appreciate a photograph of my son’s kitten he named Nikon, after another camera. Here she is playing around with the dismantled Christmas tree …



Facts and Evidence

My first drawing was of a pair of shoes … They’re made of velvet and I bought them just before Christmas (in the sale) for Β£4!

The drawing reminded me of a couple of real stories – hope you can read them on the journal page. As a kid, I watched a programme called Indelible Evidence. It showed how a criminal was brought to justice just because he had an unusual bite. He’d taken a bite out of an apple and tossed it away. The partially eaten apple became the evidence. As children, part of growing up is testing boundaries and seeing what you can or cannot get away with. Children worry about getting told off or having items confiscated due to their behaviour. Being a teacher has shown me the many excuses children try out when they fail to bring their homework in: one told me his house burnt down. Have you ever used an excuse as a child why you didn’t do your homework? I confess, I often left mine to the last minute. I remember being asked to make a 3D junk clock. Reluctantly, I scrabbled around the house and selected a few items such as a cereal box and the lid of of the toothpaste. Randomly, I glued the pieces on and created something that vaguely could be called a clock. Feeling sheepish, I handed it over to my tutor and looked at the floor so he couldn’t see my expression. Odd that something I rushed together was praises. All I wanted to do was chuck it in the trash!
One of the stories in my new journal tells about the time my daughter did do her homework only for her sister to sabotage it! I’ve witnessed pranks being made by adults for adults and enjoyed playing the game Balderdash. My youngest played this game over the festive break and invented a whole new currency: stirfry!
One is about a man my mum worked with many years ago who had very large feet and was the only male worker in a catering department. He liked playing with flour and generally made very clumsy attempts at cooking. The other tales are about my youngest – she loves drawing. Enjoy! I’ll leave the Kitkat story to your imagination!


Back to work!!!

Hi all! Hope you had a lovely Christmas/seasonal break. I unfortunately spent most of it ill from a stomach bug … Not much fun, especially when having to drive for over two hours with eldest so she could see her boyfriend … and today is back to work day!

Anyway, to mark the fact I’m feeling a bit better, despite missing virtually all the festivities, I embarked on making a hand cut rubber stamp. This involved using a gift from my DH for my birthday nine days ago.

I first sketched an outline of houses, taking my inspiration from Copenhagen and the colourful buildings, on the 2″ x 1″ eraser and then selected the smallest gauge lino cutter from my box.


I did this while watching the daftness of James May messing around with action man figures and sindy dolls ….

I then cut around the houses for more definition


Meanwhile, Nikon was up to her antics again. She really does like climbing the Christmas tree!



After rescuing the cat, who didn’t want to come out of the tree, I applied a thin layer of acrylic paint. Here’s one of the first impressions from my rubber stamp.

20141229-071839-26319206.jpg as the print is tiny, I used a black fine-nibbed pen to add further detail to the windows.

Now … I’d better get up, de-ice the car and head out to the office. Take care everyone if you’re out and about in the snow and ice and stay warm xx

Writer badges

Hi all πŸ™‚

I’m so excited! My twelve-year-old has just finished writing her first novel and when I asked her how long it is she replied, “47 chapters”. I mentioned in an earlier post that she was busy writing one, while I was taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) last month. I haven’t been allowed to read it as she wanted to show it to me when she’d finished it. So last night inspired me to get out the frosty shrink plastic and I made us a pair of a typewriter badges! First I sketched out typewriter using my stencil I made a few weeks ago as a reference:

I majorly shrunk it down to fit a circle of shrink plastic measuring 8cm across. Once I was content with the black image on the frosty plastic, I baked it in the oven under 175 degrees until it shrank to the size of a ten pence piece. Next, I found some glitter glaze and painted on the reverse before adding a brooch pin to the backs. There’s enough space on the typewriter paper to write her name using a permanent marker (particularly as she has an unusual name spelling).
Cute don’t you think?


The ties arrived in time :-)

How about a handprinted tie for Christmas? My dad always had to wear a suit and tie to work and I can remember as a kid going into a tailors many years ago while he was measured up for a tailor-made jacket. He also used to traipse across town in search of leather-soled shoes so they lasted. To him, that was money well spent. My mum would also painstakingly iron his shirts and fold them as if they’d just been bought so that they could neatly sit inside the wardrobe piled up on the shelves rather than be hung up on a hanger. Likewise, I seldom saw my grandfather out of a proper shirt; he always dressed for dinner.
So, I thought long and hard what I could buy my dad for Christmas this year. He, of course, dresses up in shirt and tie for restaurant meals, but when I saw him yesterday he was wearing a thread-bare sweater and jogging bottoms – his garage clothing. Hmm, should I fork out for something he’s unlikely to wear? Should I invest the next two weeks into trying to knit a new sweater for him (impossible) or handprint him a unique tie that he could wear on special occasions, such as my daughter’s forthcoming birhday?
I chose the latter and ordered five plain white silk ties (well, some might not turn out quite right). Then I added some fabric paints to the list began considering designs for it.
This is what I came up with – a handprinted silk tie – this is one I sold today at an orchid and craft fair :-). The other is off public view as it needs to remain a surprise!


First ever crocheted necklace

Over the year I’ve achieved several firsts at crafts:
Pewter casting
Patchwork chicken pin cushions
Toothbrush bracelet (yes, really)
Printing on a gelli plate
Completing a 39 square embroidery project
Painting a mural on a wall
Creating a magazine-rolled pen pot
Book sculpting
Holding my first art exhibition (outside of college)
Creating my first knitting pattern and publishing it
Taking part in the National Novel Writing Month, achieving the winner’s 50,000 word badge and working full time!
Stitched my first teddy bear out of a cushion cover …

…just to name a few! There have also been many crafts I’ve revisited and enjoyed very much such as drawing and sketching, book making, lino cutting and printing, pyrography and writing haiku. Time and again, I reminded myself that it would be a huge challenge to produce a craft a day as this blog suggests in its name. I mostly achieved that – and sometimes posted more than one post in a day – until I began to work full time and seeing my son go off to uni. It was only when we got to November I reasoned with myself that I could produce better work if I spent more time on it than pushing myself to get that blog post out before midnight!
There have only been a few days when I’ve not added a blog entry … that’s only recently. This is because I’ve realised there are some things that need to stay hidden for a bit so that ideas can grow and creativity can happen :-). Also, some opportunities happen when you least expect them … and aren’t even consciously looking for them (such as when I found the route to buying my first printing press) and having one of illustrations published (outside of the blogesphere) this week!!! That really was exciting!
Now, I have editing to do on my newly written novel – a creative journey in itself, so if this blog goes quiet you’ll know that I am still busy creating. But … I’ll be back and hope that you will drop by and say hello in the comments now and again.

Meanwhile, here is another first: I’ve never made a crocheted necklace or piece of jewelery before. I was inspired by a colleague wearing a knitted bauble necklace at work today. She had a lovely deep red jumper on and a long necklace. As I’m not keen on knitting, I decided to attempt to make one using a size 3 crochet hook and a ball of cotton string :-). I chose string mainly because I’m not keen on the wool colours I have in my cupboard; each of them were bought with specific projects in mind or I’ve been given random odd balls of yarn by my mum who knits trauma teddies for children who’ve been displaced through natural disasters. I’m also thinking that I might dye the string now that I’ve made the necklaces. What do you think?