Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Wedding of Awesomeness: Part Four

Two big reasons behind the handmade nature of our wedding were the desire to express ourselves precisely, and having a small budget. The table decorations we pulled together show both of these:

I spy nautical stars again

The flowers, as you know, were handmade from paper. The vase was a coffee tin covered with punchinella (look out very soon for a video tutorial on using punchinella); the candle holder was a jar that once held gherkins. I designed the labels on the jar and candle myself.

We kept it simple and understated - just us. No frilly froofiness, no swan-shaped napkins, no bows on backs of chairs. There were a couple of other things that formed the table centrepieces - a quiz, again completely designed by me to look like a old diner menu, and the evening programme:
I totally love that microphone image
Once again those beautiful swallows made an appearance. I am planning something else for these swallows, something that I hope will happen this year.... to be continued....

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Trayding Places

Altering things is a pastime that often evades me. I fail to break down the project into small, manageable pieces and then get so overwhelmed with the seeming enormity of the task that I put off starting - or, to be truthful, in most cases, finishing - the job.

Not so with this one. It kind of wrote itself, in a way.

do they actually have a name for these cushion-tray-things?

Take one TV-cushion-tray-thing. Take a bunch of old scraps of paper, a pair of scissors, and some glue. Sit down in front of the TV (in my case, it was a silly film called Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), and proceed to cut and stick. Afterwards, laminate and paint the wooden frame (only if you like painting wood. My husband near forbade me to do it as the tray is one of two which came from his late grandfather and for some reason he dislikes painted wood to an almost extreme degree. But I am working on that, now we're married).

it's mine. it's not any one else's.

Finally, brand it as yours so no one else can use it. Then promise that you'll make one for said person trying to steal usage minutes of your tray, but remain vague on the timescale involved. You never know, this might be a one-off case of finishing something within a day of starting it.

it's the shabby-chic distressed effect of painted wood he dislikes the most

To round things off, here are some end-of-the-month competitions for some weekend crafting:

  • Punky Scraps - three October challenges to choose from: a collage, a spooky sketch, and a recipe
  • True XOXO Girls - October's scraplift challenge is still open: choose one of the team's eye-catching creations as a jumping-off point 
As always, if you enter you could win a prize. There's no excuse not to get crafting!

And if you're still reading, a small toot: I'm usually their video alchemist, but today I'm also being written about on Gauche Alchemy's blog.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Caddy Love

Lily Bee Designs are starting to offer sketches for inspiration - and they're good.

I joined in with the first one by creating the second ever page of my wedding album. This was the sketch:

For over two years we had known which car we wanted for our wedding. And for over a year it had been booked. It was a 1956 Cadillac Sedan de Ville... this 1956 Sedan de Ville:


Why the sigh? Because at midday on the day of our wedding, I received a phone call from the car company, saying that the Sedan de Ville wouldn't start.

look! look how calm I am!

I went into Seriouser than Serious mode. The company offered me, instead, a Rolls Royce in silver or a Jaguar in British racing green. There was no way I was letting this slip away from me - the car was a big part of our vision, and my underlying desire was always only for everything to be coherent - so of course, I simply said that no, neither of those options were any good. That's when the company told me that they might have another Cadillac... it was from 1960, just about on the edge of what would work for me. It was also from the higher price range, but they would provide it at no extra cost. Naturally, I said. Then I heard the word 'tailfins' in my ear, and I was sold. Relieved, too.

Less than an hour later, the Caddy turned up. It was only at this point - while I am having my hair painstakingly put in place - that we discovered it had no roof. Now, I can look back and laugh at how I've always liked the windswept look. But on that day, at that moment, the journey to the Town Hall (we were running late, and there was an annual Beer Festival taking place which meant road blocks and diversions on top of that) was the most stressful of my life* because the wind in your hair is nice and all, but not what you want on your wedding day.

Anyway, back to the layout. I wanted to stitch on my page. I've cleared the way to the sewing machine again so I can stitch on my pages once more. But for me, to stitch the circles would've been too obvious. So I brushed on some acrylic paint, didn't like the look of it, and smudged it with a cotton wool pad. And then I was happy.

see them circles and stars again...
I used some paper and stickers from Lily Bee's Picket Fence collection, and combined them with Echo Park Happy Days bits and pieces, with some sparkly Thickers thrown in and Tim Holtz stamps.

still loving those nautical stars I made for the invitations
I didn't win the sketch competition, but the sketch was a great starting point for a layout that I'm happy with. 

The official photos have arrived now so I'm planning, planning, planning... how many pages can you fit into a post-bound album?

*coming in a close second is the one on which we transported my fish in their bowl from Norwich to Brussels by car. They learned about tidal pull that day; not to mention a little surfing. One of them was so traumatised it jumped right out of the bowl that evening after we'd arrived and went to fishy heaven (which was either somewhere under the sofa or in the doggie's stomach).


Monday, 24 October 2011

Practising Alchemy

As a Gauche Alchemist, I am lucky enough to have received a package of goodies from them - a package which kept on spilling more and more goodies as I sifted through its contents.

I have been using Gauche Alchemy products in almost all of my creations since then - you'll remember My Bouquet, the Copenhagen Album, and the Skullies Box - but I've just made a (very almost) solely GA creation, and it was so easy. They basically provided me with everything I needed to put this card together - all I added was the spray mist, the ink and a Tim Holtz stamp.

a card without an obvious message - there were too many things to say

So, the card came in September's Going Postal Kit, along with the bakers' twine, the shiny orange circle stickers, the 'Comprehensive Guide' punch and the 'Congrats' fake stamp punch. The button came with the Scarlet Fever Mixed Media Color Kit. The map and the foreign text and the labels can be found in various kits and the ouchless cardboards is plentiful and varied and can be bought to suit your needs.

I got the look I wanted with the splashy flicky paint splatter look: I took the tube out of the mist spray bottle and dripped onto the card, and then blew with a straw so they spread out. I used Versamark ink to give a watermark stamped effect with the Tim Holtz sunray stamp at the top of the card. And then I just layered and layered and layered.

For more inspiration on what to do with GA goodies, check out the Gauche Alchemy SNR event later tonight - 7pm EST at Scrapbook News and Review. The SNR design team were given a bunch of GA products to work their own alchemy with. Pop in and see what they've been up to!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The One Hundred

Have you ever expected something to be a really momentous occasion, and then realise that it totally passed you by?

I recently hit 100 followers on this here blog, and in the flurry of the True XOXO blog hop, I didn't even mention it. So here's to Christa (follower number 100) and everyone else for making me feel special and all warm and fuzzy inside.

Thank you to each and every one of you - loyal commenters, silent readers, shy sometimers, occasional dip-inners, and those who are too busy to do much at all. From the bottom of my heart, I am grateful and flattered at the way this blog has turned out - because of you. I am guilty myself of letting things slip, only sometimes skim-reading what I should instead eagerly jump on, even of neglecting those things I truly want to read and comment on but in reality look at the clock when everything else is done and see that it says 'bedtime'. I know it's hard to keep up in this environment of ever-increasing social platforms (I'm struggling, for sure). So, thank you all for being you and keeping my blog alive with your comments that make me laugh, think, want to have a conversation with you, send me off to look at your blog, inspire and more.

Now, I had planned a giveaway to mark this grand event, but I have been in a state of disorganisation lately, one that I am finding it hard to shake off. So, instead, I am going to share with you a few ideas for the future of my blog, and ask for your thoughts in return. And to one of those thoughts' owners, I will send a little handmade something to brighten their day and make them revel in the amazingness that is the online crafting community.

Before the year is out, I'd like to:
  • revamp the design of the blog
  • tell you more about my creative process - what happens before and around a creation
  • include more tutorials
Please let me know if you agree or disagree with any of these, or if you want to see more or less of something here, or if there is something else not here that you'd like to see more or less of. I'd like to work to make this blog more readable for you, the readers. What piques your interest, whets your appetite, gets your creative juices flowing?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Front-Page News

Thanks to the skills of all our camera-toting wedding guests, I have a few really excellent pictures to work with while still (yes, still) waiting for the official photographs.

I've started our wedding album, people. Monumentous! And true to form, my organisation head wouldn't let me make any pages before I'd made the front page. Scrapbook Challenges' sketch 271 - out this week, so go and play along to be in with a chance of winning a prize - helped me pull this front page together.

The sketch:

I used the photo of us taken by my bridesmaid that I mentioned before. What this photo doesn't show (thankfully) is the tourists milling around, also taking photos of us; the random man wheelbarrowing a Mannekin Pis statue across the courtyard; the Spanish lady asking for a photo of my bouquet; and the other random man in a kilt trying to get in a photo with some of the bridesmaids.

it pulls together elements we used in the decor with some Echo Park goodness and some American Crafts sparkle
It does show a moment of calm just after we were declared husband and wife. It shows a style which, despite the twists and turns and the doubts and criticisms of the journey, I'm forever glad we stuck to our guns over. And it shows - of course it shows - the thing that lies at the centre of it all. Love.

told you I was loving circles and stars at the moment

and how could I resist the polka dot heart?
Look out for more wedding album pages very soon!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Wedding of Awesomeness: Part 3

This is the only photograph of all 6 bouquets together, so feast your eyes for a while.

You recognise mine, of course, from my excited wedding day post and my Gauche Alchemy video tutorial.

The 4 bouquets of yellowed music score roses were for the bridesmaids. Those roses... I started making them in January, at which time I made about 10 (there are about 20 in each bouquet). Then I had a 'break' for 6 months (I couldn't face going back to them, because I was scared of running out of paper. But instead of acting soon and finding out with enough time to choose an alternative path if necessary, I put it to the back of my mind. Great forward planning skills. I was lucky I got away with it). In July I came back to them and blitzed the music score paper supply, ending up making too many roses in the end. But they are beautiful, so I don't care.

And the cute red gingham bouquet was for the flower girl, my husband's niece. My mum put it together, as well as making all the flowers (she was much more organised than me - she finished them all by May).

By now they are all home somewhere with their respective owners. None of them were caught, because none of them were thrown. There was NO way I was throwing mine. Hell, I even winced when the photographer told me to rest it on the trunk of the caddy (there's a teaser for a photo I'm waiting on!).

Thursday, 13 October 2011

XOXO Blog Hop!

Hey there hopping XOXO Girls! (And hey to everyone else who ain't hopping!)

The True XOXO Girls blog has been going through some changes lately, so to round them all off we've decided to have a blog hop.

First, a little bit about me. I'm a very recently married, lindy-hopping, vintage-loving, dog-owning, punky but shy scrapper. I live in Brussels, Belgium, and am lucky enough to work from home so whenever the need takes me I can just pop into my craft room and get scrapping. At the moment I am loving stars, paint, texturiser, circles and ink.

If you've just come to visit me but would like to start the blog hop, begin here. As ever, there is a prize! And this time, it is immense!

The overall prize for the person who completes the blog hop: a Guest Design Team spot for True XOXO for December! Completing the blog hop means commenting on every single member of the team's blog. There are also RAKs along the way, depending on how generous or organised people are, and whether they suffer from stash overflow or not (me, I'm in the Not Organised category this time. I am, however, planning to sort through my stash and offer a RAK when my follower numbers reach 100... not far to go!).

Now, there was a twist to the challenges for this blog hop. Each member challenged another member, so all the challenges are different - and I can tell you, we are a diverse bunch! I was challenged by Ana Oxendale-White (who you should have come to me from if you're hopping right) to make a layout inspired by a road sign.

All I could think about for a long time was how I didn't have my own version of that classic photo: the American desert, a lone roadsign, a deep blue sky, sand and dust, nothing else around, inevitably hipstamaticised or instagramised. I didn't have my own version of that photo. But oh, how I wanted it.

After a couple of weeks I fished around in my brain and caught all the swirling ideas. I dipped into our hard drive of pictures and emerged with one that was just right for me to mess around with in

this is it post-production

Then I set to work with my haul of ideas. I wanted to get that feel of brightness the classic road sign photo evokes in me, so setting it all against a dark background was important for me. I also added some shapes that were reminiscent of signs, and a couple of casino-inspired embellishments to point at the desert part of my vision. The electric blue and purple paint splotches are almost hidden by the clusters of paper but I wouldn't be without them.

So there you go. I in turn challenged Emma Ruth Cruz-Fronda to make me smile with some awesome nu-school/old-school tattoo-inspired work - I mean anchors, nautical stars, swallows, hearts and barbed wire, bright colours and thick black outlines. Go check out what Emma did - you won't be disappointed. I wasn't!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

The Wedding of Awesomeness: Part 2

It feels really weird to write this, but there were more than two hearts at our wedding.

What you saw when you looked up

Those hanging paper hearts are, and have been, all over the internet and especially Etsy for some time. But I still had to have them. I made them back in February, and I was damned if I wasn't going to use them! Cherry paper and everything!

The magical bunting was a labour of starchy love. My mum made over 50 metres of it, having chosen a whole range of fabrics that would match with the outfits and colours and styles of the wedding. I don't have the precise data, but I think it took a good couple of days to starch all of those triangles.

And the nautical stars - well... I made those a couple of weeks before the wedding, deciding one day that there was not enough nautical star in the whole picture. After the little star on the invitations, there had to be more!

These little ones were fiddly to put together

The hanging stars are 3D. I can tell you how I made them, if you like. It's quite easy.

1. I printed a large star template, and added tabs onto each outer line in pen. Then I used the template to cut out two stars from a piece of card, complete with tabs. I drew all the inner lines on in pencil with a ruler, including the ones separating the tabs from the main body of the star, and then scored along all the lines.

2. I manipulated each star so that the long lines coming from the centre to the points were mountain folds, and the shorter ones coming from the centre to the dips were valley folds. I folded all the tabs inwards.

3. This is where you decorate the star as you wish. I used the folds and lines to measure and cut out contrasting half-points to give it that nautical look.

4. Then I used PVA glue to stick the tabs of each star to each other. This was quite slow, as I needed to pinch and hold each part so that it adhered fully and began to dry before I could move onto the next part.

5. Once dry, the star - if you've made it, like I did, from thick card - is very sturdy, and holds up to more manipulation. Squash it down a bit, to make the folds and valleys really pop and dip.

6. Finally, hammer an eyelet through the top point and string it up.

They're equally good for Christmas... and that's just around the corner!

I'll leave you with a picture of me and my family.

Stylish, no?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Wedding of Awesomeness: Part 1 of Many

Hello everyone, and welcome to my little story about the time I got married. It was not, I can assure you, though I'm sure you already know, a day of pink frilliness and enormously long dress trains. It was more a day of Things That Make Up Us.

The groom and the bride got ready on the morning of the wedding in separate houses: I with my bridesmaids and my mum, and he with his groomsmen and his family. A few days earlier I'd taken a little box of presents over to the house where he was getting ready, for the boys to open on the day. The little box contained the boutonnieres that the boys would be wearing. Of course, they are handmade. As was the box.

Gauche Alchemy goodies helped decorate the lid
The texture of the box was achieved by mixing some texturising medium with acrylic paint, loading it up onto the lid and sides of the box, and then pressing a woodgrain pattern embossing folder into the paint. You gotta try it - it's a great effect!

See? They're just jumping to get out

I hand-sewed the felt skulls myself. Regrettably, I can't take credit for the idea, though. Here is the main man's skull in action:

Lots more to come soon! (And possibly some official photos, one of these days)

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Instagram, Hipstamatic, and all those things that are too cool for me

A month after our wedding, we are still waiting for the official photographs (perhaps that is not a long time, but I haven't been married before so I don't know). I am getting a little restless - starting to wonder if they've been lost or deleted, if none of them are the kinds of arty shots I wanted, if I'll be disappointed...

Thankfully one of my bridesmaids had her iPhone with her on the day. And she took my favourite photo so far:

Taken with camera+ for iPhone using beach mode and lo-fi filter

Although I think this one, by one of the groomsmen, is pretty awesome too:

This is what happens after I mess around with photos in

Not having an iPhone myself, or any kind of fancy phone, I don't have the cool little apps that make magic like this happen instantly. Instead, I mess around for half an hour in until I've got the effect I want. is quite good, though, because you can download add-ons to get different effects and new ones are being developed all the time, so it's kind of a similar set up, post-production, to phone apps. Plus it's easier to learn that Photoshop.

I love looking at phone app photos to see what people have done with them: they're a great source of inspiration. Not just for my own photo-editing, but also for crafting. Colour combos, angles, shadows... take, for example, the October challenge over at True XOXO Girls: be Inspired By Instagram. If you're still reading this, STOP and go check out the challenge NOW because the creations the team have come up with this month are BLOWING MY MIND. I've been designing with True XOXO for almost a year, and I've never seen such eye candy from the team. Seriously, go NOW. No, hang on, wait a second. Let me just show you my own Insta-Inspired layout:

I coloured the rainbow rays onto patterned vellum with Copic markers and I love what came out.

All right, now you can go.