Thursday 30 September 2010

Sneak Peek: Pumpkins and Pears

My first project for the Mini Book Anonymous design team was to create a mini book according to the theme 'Pumpkins and Pears'. It's been an experience! Here's a sneak peek of what I'll be showing you in a week's time:

I'm really excited to show you this - but I have to wait. I've got a lot of firsts under my belt now, including making a video tutorial.

Look out for my post next week when I'll tell you all about it!

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Lessons Learnt

Our craft class on Saturday went down a storm - proof is a quote from one of the fathers:

Cheryl, the kids had a ball at the craft's lesson. I am amazed at what you and Chocodeline got out of them. I find just getting them all to sit down and watch a DVD is an almost impossible challenge.

There's feedback for you!

Here is a picture of what the kids made - I'm so impressed. They look so much better than I ever imagined they would:

Some things I've learned, that might perhaps serve as tips for those thinking about giving craft classes to kids:
  • you're the teacher, the one in charge - they're expecting you to tell them to sit down and stop shouting. Don't be afraid just because they're other people's kids.
  • never underestimate the creative potential of young kids.
  • at the same time don't give them too much to do. Restlessness can come from both a too boring task and a too challenging one.
  • don't give them too much choice - young kids will create within the boundaries you set them. Give them too much choice and you'll soon have a situation on your hands which you can't control.
  • know inside out, upside down and back to front the process for your class. Kids will exploit any weaknesses in your plan and you'll lose them.
And I'll finish by saying that we all had a lot, lot of fun!

Sunday 26 September 2010

Time for a Celebration

This weekend my fiance's brother-in-law had a party to celebrate his 40th birthday. From a big Irish family, the birthday boy clocked up 3 nights of celebrating while his family visited from Ireland. Yes, we were present at all 3, and were among the last to go home for 2 of the 3. For this reason, I'm going to keep it brief today.

Of course, I made a card. Inspired by some DCWV glitter cardstock, I put together this little number.

I cut a circle in the card and backed it with the patterned paper, which I stuck down with foam pads to give it a recessed effect. I adhered the numbers with foam pads to get them to pop out of the recess.

Actually the fact that the card is in the colours of the Irish flag is an accident. I knew I wanted to use that DCWV card, but I remembered it to be more blue than green. Guess it worked out all right in the end!

Thursday 23 September 2010

Sneak Peek: Door Hangers for Kids

This weekend my crafty friend Chocodeline and I will be giving a craft class to some kids - all of whom are under 9 and most of whom are under 6. We might be a little crazy... actually, I know that at least one of them is a very talented blossoming young artist - my fiance's 7-year-old niece. So it shouldn't be a problem getting them to create.

But what should we do? We settled on door hangers, which are personalisable and provide a large (but not too large!) enough canvas for the kids to decorate.

Here is the example I have created quickly from scraps and leftovers. Chocodeline kindly painted it (check out her awesome style in the pic lower down):

I used up shapes to make animals, the theme we're going to work with:

And used up some spare Cricut shapes:

And this is the awesome paint job by Chocodeline. She said she did what she thought a child would do, but I think it looks very stylish :-)

So, here's looking forward to Saturday's class... it is taking place in the afternoon, after an early morning trip to a craft show, don't you know!

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Am I a Bag Lady?

So many of you commented on the packaging featured in my last post, I thought I'd share a little secret... I made the paper bag, replete with windows, all by myself. Woo hoo - reuse and recycle, baby! (That's me being pleased with myself, in case you couldn't tell.)

So, first up, I measured the width, length and height of the cards (the height was that of 8 cards laying flat, which turned out to be 3cm). I measured out on parcel paper a rectangle large enough to fit two flat sides of the cards and the height, and included flaps at each end and top and bottom.

Then I cut windows out of the two large sides, and stuck over them on the inside two rectangles of polythene pulled tight. I reclaimed the polythene from a bag I had left over from purchasing fabric at Ikea (when you buy the self-service fabric, you have to pack it in these huge clear bags - it's so unnecessary).

I stuck all the flaps down with double-sided tape, and double folded and stuck down the top to give a clean 'seam'.

Inside I placed the cards sets back to back so they both faced outwards, through the windows.

To finish off, I decorated it with some string, a tag, and a little altered wooden peg.

...And I'm still quite pleased with myself. I'm going to toddle off to work now dreaming of packaging.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Come On, It's For Charity!

Last night a local music club held their annual charity event. My fiance and his friend were set to play on stage - they're a beautiful guitar-trumpet reggae/ska/blues duo - and I thought I'd get involved as well - you know, for charity.

Firstly, I was a slave in the slave auction, offering to give a craft class. Secondly, I donated 2 sets of cards to the tombola.

I made a set of 5 Christmas cards:

And I added a set of my summertime birthday cards:

I went a bit overboard on the packaging - but I don't care, because I love packaging.

The people who won my cards were over the moon, which put a smile on my face, and the craft class was won by a gentleman whose daughter is thinking about going on to art college - I'm really looking forward to that one. More news will follow!

Thursday 16 September 2010

Officially an Etsian... With a Cherry on Top!

Well, it's taken a fair amount of work, a lot of waiting, more patience than I thought I had, and some minor stresses, but I'm finally open for business on Etsy!

I didn't think I would make it when people told me I was being unrealistic; I didn't think I would make it when the Belgian system told me I couldn't have a credit card; but here I am. Sometimes my stubbornness works in my favour :-)

If you are curious, go check out my shop. I'm going to try to upload daily for a little while, while I get the stock up that was meant to be there this summer, and after that I'll be uploading when I can with the creations I have time to make.

If I had some champagne right now, I would open it. And drink some. To the interesting little experiment this might turn out to be. Wish me luck!

***Edited later: I'd just like to thank Melody for passing on to me this very sweet and yummy blog award:

I'm very flattered, thank you! I'll revisit this soon....***

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Photographic Memory, Anyone?

Today I've got a really simple and quick tip... that maybe everyone does already, but even if you do, I want to say how valuable I think it is.

I am starting to really enjoy layering - like on this frame I made - and when there are lots of layers, it can be easy to forget what goes where. You cut, you measure, you cut again, you test, you layer without glue... and then what? You have to take it all apart just so that you can stick it together again.

So, take a photo of your 'dry run', and then you can dispense with the need for a photographic memory - your template is right there on your camera.

I did it with one of the layouts I posted on Sunday. Here is the dry run photo:

And here is the finished page:

It really works for me. Does anyone else do anything like this to remember where they want stuff to go?

Saturday 11 September 2010

...she'll be coming round the mountain when she comes

My other two Innsbruck pages are finished (I posted here last week about the first two pages).

I ended up with one very plain, very simple page (with a really fun photo that we obtained quite by accident - we bought a postcard, then went to sit outside a bar to write the postcard... and there was the very scene on the postcard). I was going to add more photos up the right-hand side, but I liked how it looked so much that it would've been ruinous to carry on glueing:

I stuck a couple of strips across the page near to the bottom, one an old adhesive ribbon, one a spotty-cloudy thing from Echo Park's Sweet Summertime collection. I cut a few tag shapes, and altered a couple of them by adding a transparent sticker and by stamping and embossing in clear ink and powder, and arranged them underneath the photo, on top of an old tram ticket. I also made a little flower bigger by adding a brad and layers of an old atlas:

The other page is a fun, centrally focused page to immortalise a great little memory - a surprise at the top of our mountain walk:

I used a lot of Cosmo Cricket Early bird stuff on this page, as well as Echo Park Sweet Summertime stickers. I added journalling around the edge for two reasons: to explain the memory, of course, and also to keep it from invading the page too much. By sticking to the page boundary I kept the page clean but was still able to write about our discovery.

I was really happy to match some of the photo's colours to the chipboard birdie:

And wanted to add some vertical to the page, which I did with a long adhesive ribbon, a stamp and a long transparent sticker:

I loved making this page - thinking about the shapes, the colours, the proportions of everything. I can feel a definite style developing...

Thursday 9 September 2010

Doggie Bag

Since my sewing post a few weeks ago, I've had requests to make more bags, and, yes, I really want to make more bags. I will, I promise! The below item, however, was not exactly what I had in mind, but the opportunity simply presented itself...

It's a little bag to clip onto the dog's leash, in which to store poop scoops. We previously had a little plastic dispenser, but it was not very sturdy and kept breaking. After buying a third replacement we gave up and sought another solution: namely, my fabric scraps and sewing machine.

Keeping all the edges frayed for that dumpster chic look, I folded and sewed the top of the bag over a cord so that it becomes a drawstring bag. I cut the little doggie head and ear shapes and sewed around them, leaving the top of the head open so that I could add a popper closer, making a little pocket in which to store treats. Ain't it just rockin'?

Tuesday 7 September 2010

How Very Acetating

Today I'd like to share with you a little money-saving exercise. If you remember from my Summer Rain mini, I made some acetate swirliness to go over one of the pages, and also a whole acetate overlay by tracing a pattern onto the acetate with a CD pen.

Well, I caught the acetate bug, good and proper... but being a bit empty of pocket, can't simply go out and buy those beautiful printed or cut acetate sheets, and more. I did buy some Heidi Swapp Ghost Alphas with my birthday money, and was disappointed to find they weren't all that thick or sturdy. So, since I've been saving bits of acetate packaging for EVER, I finally have reason and motivation to use some of it!

I'm going to apologise in advance for the poor photos - I had to take them at night. Anyway, I powered up the Cricut, cut my acetate to size, and began by cutting a flower:

I'm going to cut so many flowers - acetate is so versatile, and flowers are so often used... I'm never going to have to buy any thing Ghost again! Ha!

After that I cut an oval. I wanted to used some peel offs on this one:

And it looks great from either side. I've used quite thick acetate - the kind that forms the window of a shower gel gift set box. And for this thickness I set the Cricut to cut on the deepest cut setting. The acetate shape generally comes away quite easily from the rest of the sheet:

But sometime you have to 'snap' it a bit.

Next, I cut some tag shapes (I've outlined one of them in orange as they're difficult to see otherwise):

And for these shapes I wanted to use rub-ons to decorate. All I can say is... Wow:

I love how good these look! I can't wait to spend a little more time exploring the possibilities of acetate! What do you like to do with acetate? Post a comment and let me know!

Sunday 5 September 2010

Coming Round the Mountain

Even though I made a mini book about our Easter trip to Innsbruck, I still had some large layouts in my head that I wanted to do to show off the incredible photography skills of that fiance of mine. I finally got round to doing two, and there are two more that are nearly finished, which I'll show you next week.

Years ago I salvaged this big blue mountain from a chocolate box... I was just waiting to go to the mountains and take some pictures so I could use it!

I kept all the colours very icy and muted. I used 3 Bugs in a Rug and Echo Park papers on brown cardstock, and used only a few embellishments. I just love these little footprint embies - I can't remember where I got them from though! The alphas are from Toga.

The second page was made with the same colours but some different shades.

I was really pleased with the paint job in the end - I used leftover chipboard letter outlines as stencils and didn't mind if I went over the edges.

I also drew some tiny circles with a white gel pen and dotted some paint in the middles for a little accent.

I'll have the other two pages finished soon. I'm going to experiment a little with the clean & simple style... watch this space...

Thursday 2 September 2010

Feeling Fruity

I'm feeling very pleased with myself today as I've managed to tick something off of my physical To Do list. I've had a set of mini canvasses lying around for years - and I mean years - and I've finally finished them!

I usually enjoy making more detailed, messier and more random collages, so these turned out to be quite a break from my normal style. They're crisp, almost sparse, but there's enough on each to get the idea across. Individually and collectively they represent snapshots of us and a few of the things we enjoy in life.
I painted each canvas with a couple of layers of acrylic paint, and then covered them in coordinating, themed embellishments -simple.

Just a quick little crafty experiment to get some creative juices flowing after having lost my mojo for a couple of days.

Before you go, I have a question for you. I love cherries - their flavour and feel, but also their image and the things they're associated with now, like contemporary vintage (I love 1950's-style clothing). I also love cherries because they quite closely resemble my name :-). I'd love you to tell me whether you have a particular affinity with a fruit or a flower, and why!