Thursday, 25 August 2016

Make it digital...

Hello crafty peeps and welcome to my crafty nook! I hope you've all had a good week so far. It's nearly the bank holiday weekend so we know what that means - more crafting! Please excuse any typos my 'dear' cat Jinx is on the desk in front of me and he keeps pressing keys - I hate to imagine what gobbledigook will end up on this post, I do try to proof read my blog posts but occasionally the odd typo will creep under my radar and end up in the final version.

This week's challenge over at Passion For Promarkers is to make it digital i.e. use digitally produced digi stamps, papers or sentiments please click the link for more details . I'm not a huge fan of digitally produced cards either from CD ROMS or downloadable items so this week's challenge was a hard one. But as I had my printer out anyway to print out the eBook from week two of the Colorista Adult Colouring Course and the homework practice sheets, I decided to finally print out a digital image I got free after signing up for the Greetings Farm newsletter. I'm not sure if this image is actually an Anya though she does have the rag doll like arms as I can't recall what this image is called but it seems similar to one and is very cute. Mermaids are the new unicorns at the moment lol, and I do have two mermaid images in my stamp collection but like the unicorns that are still popular the mermaids currently doing the rounds are very cutesy images and the two I own are either too dark (Mirebelle Mergirl) or too realistic (Prima Dolls Mermaid - which I wanted so much then used it once!). Pretty much everyone is giving their mermaids either Ariel hair (bright red) or rainbow hair which is really nice but I'd worry about them being easily spotted by fishermen and ending up in a zoo or similar. *okay I know there's no such things as mermaids (as far as we know!) but I can't help think that they'd blend into their environment to help them keep safe from predators* With that in mind I've coloured my mermaids using greens or muted colours so they can hide in seaweed etc.

This wasn't the easiest of challenges for me to take part in not least because I've never actually used a digi stamp before. I did like the fact I could alter the size of the image - this one nearly fills a 4 1/4" x 5" panel so I printed 4 out onto a sheet of  A4 Sheena Douglass stamping card - I'm not even sure if that's the right card to use for digi images but I tried it first onto matte photo paper and Promarkers just don't blend on it so I worked with that I'm used to. The main problem I had was it took nearly five hours to print out my eBook and the mermaid sheets, I don't know if that's because the PC is rather old, or if it's because I'm not using Cannon ink cartridges and my printer is sulking or if it just didn't like printing out on cardstock but whatever it was that caused the delay it certainly didn't make me like digital images any more than I did. I used Flex Markers to colour this image apart from the grey background and bubble which is a Spectrum Noir BG01 marker and colour less blender (sorry Promarkers!) TBH I only used the Spectrum Noir markers because my greys have all dried out in my Flexmarkers (I prefer ordinary Promarkers because they seem jucier then the Flex markers but the FM were nearer to me!) I really like how the bubbles came out especially when I added a white highlight to each one - I just wish I'd placed them slightly differently because it looks a bit like the mermaid is well, farting lol.  Once I'd coloured the image in I added it to a panel of Centura Pearl green card from the Darks collection. I added Clear Shimmer Marker and Glossy Accents to the mermaid's tail and to the starfish in her hair. I diecut the shell, starfish and seaweed using a variety of thin dies out of scraps of the stamping card and coloured the seaweed using a Real Color Brush Marker and a bit of water and the starfish in with Flexmarkers (Gold and Amber) I arranged them on the bottom left corner and stuck them down using a glue pen. I added some gold holographic sequins from a pack of Dovecraft Glad Tidings sequins as shown using dots of Dovecraft 3D Pearl Effects in clear which is a really strong adhesive, the sequin near Anya's face is actually there because I accidentally smudged a bit of green real brush marker on her arm and face and it still showed through more skin tone pen (think I used Antique White which is flesh coloured). Here are some more photos and a darker skinned and hair version (which my hubs prefers).

Sorry there's so many photos but I wanted all the details (like the glittery glossy tails) to be highlighted. I'm thinking about framing these two mermaids because I really like how they've turned out. I was half expecting the printer ink to react with the alcohol ink in the Flexmarkers so it was a peasant surprise to find it didn't - I did allow the printed pages to dry overnight though so I'm not sure if a digi image can be coloured as soon as it pops out of the printer. I would like to print this image out on my super smooth card stock because the card I used seemed to suck the ink into itself rather quickly and although there wasn't any bleeding outside the lines the ink went straight through to the back of the card something I've not really noticed using my super smooth card.

If you are into digital crafting or just want to challenge yourself out of your crafting comfort zone like I have, then please click on the link at the top of this post for more details on the Passion For Promarkers Blog. As always if you have any questions or comments then please leave them in the usual places as I love to read them. I hope you all have a fantastic bank holiday weekend - hopefully the weather will improve (it's chucking it down here!) but if not rain's perfect crafting weather!  Until next time - keep crafting!

Love and crafty hugs,

Sarah xxx

Monday, 22 August 2016

Creepy or Cute?

Hello crafty peeps and welcome to my crafty nook! I hope you all had a brilliant weekend and got up to lots of crafty adventures. It was my lovely hubby's birthday on Sunday and as he loves sugar skulls I made him a pop up box card full of them.

I cut all 15 skulls out using the skull and torso die that's part of the skeleton Perfect Partners by Sheena Douglass (Crafter's Companion) die set and just placed the card over the skull and not the full die to do some partial diecutting. I decorated the skulls by raiding my stamp collections and finding as many small flowers as possible - Tatty Twinkles stamps were where I got most of them from. I stamped them in black and added black dots round some eye sockets and over the embossed teeth. I coloured the open parts of the flowers with marker pens.

I made the pop up box in the usual way and cut panels of Centura Pearl black card stock to the required sizes then I embossed them using a Darice Crosses embossing folder making sure that each piece was placed slightly different to the others so they are all slightly different. Once embossed I added these panels to the card base. I stuck the decorated skulls onto thin strips of acetate and added them to the inner struts of the card, staggering them so they are all different sizes.

I made an envelope using my WRMK envelope punch board and then added Chris's name on the right hand side using metal letters mounted onto a strip of black card. I added tiny slivers of foam tape behind the metal letters so they are raised slightly above the black card.

Chris really liked his card and his first reaction to it was "Wow! It looks like the audience of a KISS concert!" - Priceless!

I must be honest this isn't to everyone's taste - I'm not even sure if it's to mine and I can't work out if it's cute or rather creepy lol. The main thing is that Chris loves it, even if no-one else does.

As always if you have any questions or comments then please leave them in the usual places as I'd love to hear from you. Until next time - keep crafting!

Love and crafty hugs,

Sarah xxx

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

A Couple of Cards to Share

Hello crafty peeps and welcome to my crafty nook! I hope you all had a brilliant weekend. Things are still a bit chaotic here in my crafty nook as I'm still sorting out the crudy - for a tiny space it certainly holds a lot of crafting goodies. My organising feat hasn't been helped by the insistence of crafting goodies falling into my shopping basket(s) online (how very much dare they!) - what can I say I'm a sucker for a crafty bargain! Most of my crafting pennies (pounds really) have been spent at Crafter's Companion because they've had a brilliant Summer Sizzler Sale on, as a Gold Member of their Inspire Club (free to join and the more you buy the higher up the tiered discount levels you go - everyone starts off at bronze and gets 5% the site prices, a Gold member gets 15% off their order and free priority delivery but you need to have reached 750 points to become one - sounds loads but they have double points events and other ways to increase your points) I get a generous 15% off my order with free priority delivery regardless of how much I spend but at the moment CC have a special discount code which saves you £5 on a £40 order. It started last month and if you use it in the first month you get another code for the following month and then a final code to use in the third month. If you use all three then you get an additional 250 points added to your total which is a great way to either work towards the next level or ensure you stay in the tier you are in for the next year. I would love to become a platinum member which means I would get an amazing 20% off my order but to get there I need to have 1500 loyalty points - as much as I love Crafter's Companion I really don't want to spend £1500 (and to be honest I doubt I'd be able to afford to!) in a year on one site because sometimes you can either buy what you want cheaper elsewhere or they don't stock what I want anyway. Having these discount events is brilliant because although I'm spending £105 in one place over three months I increase my loyalty points by at least 370 points and I get some brilliant additions to my craft stash as well. In this month's order I took great advantage of the sale and bought 17 (yes you read that correctly) embossing folders - I really love embossing folders lol. I also got some dies in the sale and treated myself to the Skeleton Perfect Partners die set which wasn't in the sale. I'll be totally honest I'm not hugely keen on the fact that the skeleton is wearing little pointy toe boots which seems a tad random and I thought the head was separate from the torso but I've already used and I think it'll come in handy for a lot of occasions. My main reason for buying it was for the skull - my husband loves sugar skulls and I am working on a pop up box card full of floating grinning sugar skulls for his birthday on Sunday, I've already die cut 15 skulls and started to decorate them so hopefully I'll have the finished card to share with you soon.

Sorry the intro's so long this time! Let's get on with the main point of this post - a couple of cards for my niece Bethany who celebrated her 7th birthday yesterday (Monday).

I don't use kits very often because I feel that as a fairly experienced crafter they are a little bit too much like an easy option and I sort of feel like I'm cheating if I don't make cards from scratch. But they can be a life saver if you are in a rush or don't feel at your best. This kit came free with a magazine and although it turned out ok I think I probably won't make up the other pop up box cards in the kit as I can do a better job without it. The toppers are ok and I do like the double sided printed card blank but the tab on the box was extremely thin and I couldn't use red liner tape on it because there wasn't enough width on the tab. The struts for the floating elements were slightly (a couple of millimetres) too wide to fit inside the box without bowing which means that the card didn't fold completely flat. Because it feels too much like cheating to use the kit as it is, I added embossing powder to the balloons and cupcakes and  heat set them so that they became glossy or had added sparkle from holographic glitter particles, adding your own touches like this means you can personalise a card without it becoming too time consuming. I made this card for my mum to send.

I wanted to spend most of my time on handcrafting a special card from Chris and I (I'm not feeling too good at the moment which is why I cheated with the first kit card). Bethany has had a lot of health issues and it wasn't too long ago that she couldn't walk and was fed through a tube (quite terrifying to do the first couple of times!) and even though she still has a lot of challenges ahead it is amazing how much she has progressed since I've known her. Bethany is the mascot for one of the groups at the local majorette troupe and it is so wonderful to see her matching in time to the music swishing her pom poms so I decided to make her a Tatty Twinkles Cheerleader card. Bethany has beautiful copper hair so I tried very hard to colour Tatty's hair the same. As always I used Sheena's Stamping card from Crafter's Companion and Flex Markers to colour the image in. The black card layers are Centura Pearl card and the red and cream layers came from a pack of bigger than A5 card stock from Tattered Lace - the red started off as cream but I coloured it using one of the same reds I used to colour Tatty's uniform. I used a Tonic Studio border punch to make the decorative edges on two of the pieces of card and layered them together as shown. I added some sparkle to Tatty using a Sakura glitter gel pen and then added the red glitter enamel dots as shown. This image was actually my 4th attempt at it as I tried fussy cutting around the first image (looked awful!) then experimented with water colours for a further two attempts. I couldn't get the skin or hair as I wanted them so went back to my Flex Markers. I am really pleased with Tatty's hair and used terracotta for the shaded areas combined with ginger, amber and pumpkin. It's not as good as most people's colouring but I'm really pleased with it personally.

I hope you like my latest cards, hopefully I'll have the sugar skulls card made soon and I'll be able to share it on here. As always if you have any questions or comments then please leave them in the usual places and until next time - keep crafting!

Love and crafty hugs

Sarah xxx

Monday, 8 August 2016

A life/craft updated and an Emoji Teen Card

Hello crafty peeps and welcome to my crafty nook! I hope you all had a brilliant weekend - did you get up to anything crafty? I'm in the middle of a late spring clean of my crudy or is that an early autumn clean of my crudy?? The next few months are going to be very busy for me in a crafty sense so I'm trying to get my crafty nook tidied and organised - I'm only doing it a bit at a time because as you'll know if you're a regular reader of my blog, my crudy is very small and gets very hot and airless in the summer so I try not to spend too much time in it at once. I do a lot of my crafting after midnight (probably why my crudy has craft gremlins "No matter how much they beg - never let them craft after midnight." *winks*) which isn't really the most considerate time to start banging about whilst tidying. In all fairness a lot of my 'organising' is just opening boxes and finally labeling them and I tend to take them into the lounge so I can see better as the light is much brighter in there. The tidying part is finally letting go of most of the boxes that internet orders have come in. I don't know about you but I have a really hard time letting go of  boxes just in case I need them. I think part of this stems from the fact that when I was packing up my flat before I got married I had a real difficulty getting my hands on packing boxes and in the end I had to BUY some from Aldl's which I really resented as I didn't have a lot of money to spare. I'm having to make several mind adjustments to be able to let them go - it's a work in progress. Some boxes I will be keeping though, the smaller packing boxes are perfect for re-purposing and turning into pretty stamp storage. My lovely father-in-law is going to make me a one shelf unit that I can slide over my existing stamp storage on my desk so I can have two tiers of stamps stacked above each other which will be fantastic. I'm very much an out of sight, out of mind sort of person which is one of the reasons I'm labeling my stash and I'm also quite a lazy crafter too - if something isn't to hand I'll use something else instead. The other boxes I'll keep are the ones that DVD's come in quite often, they are only the size of a thick hardback book and have an attached lid, I like to store things like mica powders and pots of glitter and embossing powders in them as they fit perfectly inside and can be stacked on top of each other. I've also got one slowly filling up with goodies for a giveaway (I sometimes order things twice by accident so the duplicate goes in the box) but that's not going to happen until I get a few more followers (so if you're not already one please add yourself and tell your crafty friends too).

I have taken a bit of time out to do some crafting so I'd like to share the card I made for my step-nephew. It's his 19th birthday today! I find making cards for men and teens to be very challenging and I wasn't too sure what to make for Ross. I was hoping he was into Pokemon as I've seen some really cute cards on Pintrest but his mum says he's not into it so I decided to play safe and get out the 'Let's Play' stamp set by Clearly Besotted Stamps which is phone related - let's face it most teenagers are obsessed by their mobiles and I'm sure Ross is no exception! Another reason I wanted to make a card using this theme is because I got an emoji die set from Spellbinders a while ago and wanted to finally use the emojis I die cut out.

Emoji Card for a Teen - sorry it's a bit fuzzy

Slightly less blurry photo of card

Close up of the phone. The emojis have been glossy accented.

I added glossy accents to the sunglasses of the appropriate emoji and also to the phone button and the mini emojis on the screen - they were coloured in using a yellow Flex Marker. I made the background paper by stamping the solid emoji from the stamp set in Fossilised Amber Distress Ink, then went over them with the expression stamps. I stamped the phone stamp first before adding the emojis because I wanted to have a layered look. The raised phone piece was stamped on a separate piece of card, coloured and cut out using my new trimmer and a large corner rounder. The card blank was made using some black Centura Pearl printable cardstock from the Darks collection. I stamped a sentiment from a Crafter's Companion Sentamentals stamp set and added a kissing emoji to the inside of the card and layered the front as shown.

I hope you like my latest make, I really love the emojis and I'm glad that I've finally been able to use the ones I die cut. By changing the colours of the main parts it's very easy to turn this into a card for a girl teen (imagine rainbow coloured emojis!). I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Ross likes the card and isn't too disappointed that it's a smaller size than usual - it's just because the phone stamp isn't huge and would be overwhelmed on an A5 size card.

As always if you have any questions or comments then please leave them in the usual places and until next time - keep crafting!

Love and crafty hugs,

Sarah xxx

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Tonic Studio Paper Trimmer Review

Hello crafty peeps and welcome to my crafty nook! How's your week been? Whether it's been pants or totally brilliant just think it's nearly the weekend so hopefully you'll have plenty of time to get some crafting done. I'm extremely pleased with my latest purchase - a 22cm Tonic Studio Trimmer although I suppose it's really a guillotine rather than a trimmer as it has a chopping blade rather than the slidey (lol not the technical term!) blade of a trimmer.Whatever it should be called I'm loving it! It isn't perfect for my needs but it's pretty close and I'm loving the fact that everything I've cut so far has been perfectly straight. Up to now I've primarily had Woodware trimmers and the original one was brilliant until I dropped it on the floor (ok I confess it wasn't just once but a few times!) and bits of it broke off but when I wanted to replace it my local craft shop only had the new version which is a lot flimsier and horrors of horrors has smaller blades than the original so all my lovely decorative edge blades don't fit! The main problem is one that's quite common with rotary bladed trimmers and that is it just doesn't cut perfectly straight - this isn't something exclusive to Woodware either - I recently bought a WRMK score and trim board and that's even worse! WARNING NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU THINK THIS IS A GOOD IDEA DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY AS IT'S A PIECE OF CRAP QUITE FRANKLY - the trimmer fishtails the end of the cut every time regardless of how much pressure you apply and even though it's in inches on one side and metric on the other you can only use the inches side with any sort of accuracy because there isn't an edge to butt your paper against so you always get a wonky cut AND you can't even score in cm because hardly any of the scoring grooves match up because they are designed to match with the imperial measurements. To make matters worse because it's designed to be "portable" it folds in half but means it's very unstable when fully opened and squashes downwards as you cut or score so anything around the 6" mark ends up wobbly. This could have been a brilliant idea if American Crafts and WRMK has not tried to be too clever and made it a larger trimmer (as in a 12" x 12" scoring area) instead of a folding one - yes it would take up space but it's not like you have to keep them out all the time, I try to keep the original packaging and store them in that so they don't get dusty or damaged and store them on their sides (it's the same way I store all my embossing boards etc) and that takes up a lot less room. The only good thing I can say about my purchase is that I shopped around (pity I didn't read the reviews before hand though!) and didn't pay the £32 it was priced on the first site I looked at but over a tenner less - it's still a heck of a lot of money to have wasted though.

Tonic Studio Guillotine Style Paper Trimmer

The cutting blade folds flat when not in use

Now lets get to the trimmer I do recommend - the 22cm Tonic Studio Paper Trimmer. As I stated earlier in this post, this trimmer isn't perfect, at 22cm which is 10 inches, it's a little bit small for some of my cutting needs for example trimming down 12" cardstock and even cutting A4 in half lengthways to make top folding cards and because it's a guillotine trimmer you can't do partial cuts. The other not too brilliant thing about it is the measuring guide only goes up to 6" which makes it very difficult to trim A4 card to anything bigger than that (makes making your own card blanks tricky) so ideally I would have liked an extendable measuring guide like other trimmers have. BUT and it's a big but everything else about it is pretty near perfect. The trimmer itself is very sturdy and has non slip feet on it's base, I have very little room on my craft desk and in fact the trimmer fills it as it appears in the photos so I often cut my card stock with part of my trimmer hanging off the edge of my desk and in all honesty that probably contributes to the problems I have had with my other trimmers. However because of this trimmer's sturdy construction it doesn't make any difference to the cut if it's hanging off the edge or perfectly flat on my desk, I still get a perfectly straight edge every time. A4 card is a different size to the standard USA card and is 29 and a bit centimetres by 21cm, the 21cm is easily divided in half (10.5cm) but it's really difficult to divide 29 and a bit cm in half (why the card isn't 29cm, 28cm or exactly 30cm I don't know) and as this paper trimmer doesn't have a handy extendable measuring guide I did struggle to trim my paper down to a useful size until I realised that the grey grided area of the trimmer (the main part you rest your paper/card on) also has card sizes on it. I like to pre-cut my card down ready for stamping so unless I'm doing a non standard card I have a stash of card cut to the correct size - for me this card is trimmed to 10.5cm x 14cm perfect for most of my stamps. To make my card pieces with this trimmer I just lined the A4 card to the A5 dash line mark on the grid and cut the card using the pull down handle, then I cut this A5 piece of card in half at 10.5cm. The first cut off piece is slightly bigger than A5 size so I have the choice of either having two sizes of cut card or what I've mainly done since getting this trimmer, lining the cut piece up with the A5 dash line cutting it to that size then cutting in half at 10.5cm - this does mean I have a thin strip of card spare but it's actually a good size for stamped sentiments. It is really fantastic to have standardised stamping card prepared, before getting this trimmer none of my card pieces were exactly the same size no matter how carefully I measured them which wouldn't be a huge problem (apart from setting my crafting OCD off) if the edges were perfectly straight - unfortunately they often wasn't so my cards always looked a bit "off" when layered. I don't want my cards to look manufactured (which is why I'm not really a huge fan of digital crafting) but I also want my cards to look professional and polished and not thrown together.(Sorry about all the ands!). I still may end up with some wonky cards but hopefully in the future it's be a deliberate choice and not the result of a dodgy cut!  The final thing about this trimmer that I love is the noise it makes as it cuts the card AND the cut edge of the card. I'm not sure what it is about the cutting noise that appeals so much to me - perhaps in a former life I was one of those old ladies knitting as people's heads rolled (lol) - but I have a big grin as I'm cutting away on it. The edge is great too - when you trim anything on a rotary paper trimmer, you get a slight lip on the underside, it's not a huge thing but you do have to be careful to make sure you cut your card etc without flipping it over otherwise you end up with odd looking edges (some smooth and others with the lip) and I don't really like using the 'wrong' side of the card if I make a mistake stamping. With the guillotine style trimmer you don't get that lip and the card looks like it's been pre-cut at the manufacturers. It's not a huge thing but it gives the finished card a more polished finish and it means I can use the reverse side without worrying. I think the best thing about this trimmer is something I'm afraid you won't be able to take advantage of - the price! The RRP of the 22cm Tonic Studio Paper Trimmer is £20.99 and I managed to get mine for only £7.50 from Every Craft's A Pound! Unfortunately as you can imagine the trimmers sold out pretty quickly, it was only because my husband is so lovely that I was able to order mine when I did because I'd already said I'd spent my crafty limit for last month. As usual because it was from Every Craft's A Pound, I had to spend a minimum of £20.00 plus £4.95 postage and packing but as they had some Tonic Studio Dies and Tim Holtz retractable craft knives and scratchers (not sure what I'll actually do with the last item), it wasn't exactly a hardship to buy even more fantastically priced bargains at the same time and in all honesty this trimmer would be worth buying at the full price. I've checked a couple of sites and it is available at less than the RRP at quite a few places, Amazon is probably the cheapest though. I love my trimmer so much that my indulgent hubby has lent me the money to buy the full size version too - RRP £37.99 (I think), Amazon price £22.20 plus free P&P (watch them though as they tried to charge me £4.95 standard delivery rather than the free delivery stated - just change the highlighted options to free delivery). I was quite happy to wait until I had some money but I'm not exactly going to turn down the chance to get it sooner. Obviously there are other places that sell the large guillotine but at the time of writing Amazon has the best price.

Sorry this is such a long blog post, I've not done reviews much before but I love this trimmer so much that I just wanted to share. I would heartily recommend keeping an eye on the Every Craft's A Pound site as they are getting a lot of Tonic Studio products in, not all are a pound but all are a bargain and a fraction of the RRP  and with the Tonic Studio items (though not the paper packs which I found to be a bit low quality) you are guaranteed quality and durability.

As always if you have any questions or comments then please leave them in the usual places, I would love to hear your views on reviews - is it something you'd like to see more of on my blog? I will have a card to share on Monday as it's my step-nephew's birthday but I don't want to add it here before he gets it (it has perfectly straight edges too!) I hope you all have a wonderfully crafty weekend and until next time - keep crafting!

Love and crafty hugs,

Sarah xxx