Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas? What christmas

Just before Christmas Kelly contracted Chickenpox from somewhere and was off work for a week, quarantined at home. As I had already been off work a fortnight with a hacking cough I was already feeling low when I managed to catch something that may have been a mutant virus from the Chicken pox or chickenpox itself or something equally as awful. This has lasted for the whole of the christmas period, christmas day I managed to open my presents but then spent the rest of the entire day asleep in bed with a headache, and it is only today that I have felt even half human.

So what were the positive bits of this year's Christmas that I did get to do, having missed out on so many of the things I normally do, such as christmas fairs and christingles?

I did get to go watch Laura's school (with Laura in the choir) sing in Canterbury Cathedral. I sat in the audience with Wayne, not singing because of my cough, but really enjoying the carols and songs.

Christmas morning we were woken at half two buy Laura phoning for Wayne's mobile number - no idea why, but this meant we actually slept through until gone 8.30 christmas. Unheard of!! All the family came over for the present opening. I got:

a cross-stitch kit, (Martin)
a wii wheel (Laura and Wayne)
Wii mario karts (Martin)
a nail varnish kit (Anne)
a book (Terry Pratchett) (mum and dad)
fury slippers (mum and dad)
cut and dry foam (Kelly)
fluxx game (kelly)

so did really well.

Then in the sales I treated myself to 20 Copic Ciao pens, Band Hero bundle for the Wii and a new dyson (yes well)

Martin entertained my mum and dad, Kelly and Ollie while I slept in bed ill, missing my christmas day, Laura and Wayne went off to join Wayne's family. Our day ended at 6 when all my lot went home.

Kelly came back for the day on boxing day but we didnt do much, Ollie was working.

On Sunday laura and Wayne came for their 'Christmas day' bringing their two Australian guests Gemma and Mike. We ate, drank and played both Wii karts and card games.

So there were some good bits despite me feeling so rough and spending another day in bed on Monday!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas crafting, mats and place settings

Despite still feeling like death warmed up, and coughing all over the place, I have had a pretty good week this week.

Monday Kelly sat one of her accountancy exams and then came round to play in the 'bubbles'. Their house sell/move is not going as smoothly as they had hoped so she was pretty down and needed the destressing time in the hot tub. Its a strange experience hot tubbing in minus degree temps but still great fun.

On wednesday Martin and I took the mad decision to take a trip up to Bluewater shopping centre. We only wanted a new pair of shoes for Mart and a Secret Santa present but I really wanted to enjoy some christmas atmosphere and it wasnt too hard to twist Martin's arm with the promise of a meal out and a trip to the cinema.

Sadly there wasnt much in the way of Christmas atmosphere, not even many decorations in the mall, but as we walked towards TFI we looked out the window to see little flurries of snowflakes falling. Eating lunch these flurries turned to huge flakes and did try to lay, but by the time we came out of the cinema the rain had started and much of the snow had gone. Thank goodness as I hate snow with a passion.

The film 'The Nativity' was brilliant and I urge everyone to go see it. Lots of laughs, lots of poiency, and some fantastically talented child actors!! Take your tissues.

We then wandered across to the Winterwonderland where I got to have a play with my camera to attempt some of the stuff I had been learning in my photo course.

Some reflections on the fozen river.
The ice rink - and it was real ice, we thought it would be dry
Yesterday I decided to take a day crafting as I wanted to get some stuff done for the christmas table. I started with some really tatty dingy looking old cork table place mats. I covered them in gesso as a base.

2 dry coats later I was able to sand them down and paint with white acrylic. While the paint was still wet I used some Plaid Denim Blue on a sea sponge to give an 'inked' feel around the edges.

The snowflakes are cut on the cricut using a variety of sizes and a ding font called WWFlakes. These were inspired by Kaths snowflakes, simply ink the edges (I used Sky Blue colorbox) and dust with glamour dust.

The pictures I chose were a freebie a found last year on a blog that has now closed down which is a shame as the lady had some serious digi talent.

Finally finished off with a coat of protective PVA (although I am thinking of getting some sticky back plastic so they can be wiped over) and voila.

Matching snowflakes piled in groups of three joined with foam dots made the place names/serviette holders,

simply topped with a pearl.

The bands are card put through the zip-e-mat using a cuttlebug folder.

Glue onto bands cut from toilet roll holders, add some name labels printed out in word and hopefully they will look very effective come Christmas lunch time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Photography course for christmas

I was lucky enough to be one of the 100 people who managed to get a place on Cheryl Jonsons 12 Days of Christmas photography course. The assignments are aimed at getting us prepared for taking photos on the big day. I havent done so well at the tasks what with being ill and not getting the decs down until late, but I thought I would have a go at getting started.

After the initial obligatory self-portrait that CJ loves to get us to do on all of her wonderful workshops

the first task was to work with the white balance menu's on our cameras and see what the different setting do.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Two more tags

As much as I adore looking at Sir Tim's tags, not all of them are to my taste and so (as well as feeling ill) I have not kept up wth all 11 out of the 12 tags he has promised us. This morning I woke quite early though so I set to and whiped up day 7 tag and day 8 tag.

Tag 7 was fairly simple to duplicate as it was much of the same by way of techniques and masking is fairly old hat although using acetate is a new twist. I used one of my own stamps instead of a santa and I embossed the white swirls ( Rhonna Farrer and Tia Bennet scoll stamps) as I was afraid the problem with the acrylic paint and the distress inks would re-occur.

Tag 8 again simple - in fact probably the easiest so far. I used some rainbow coloured vellum I have had in my stash for years, and a candle stamp (I am not into the metalic bits so didnt bother with the key. The only thing I did different was to colour my leaves and candle with distress stickles which I think gives a better feel to the whole thing.

I am now way behind in my christmas card making so I am not going to bother with the last of his tags, 8 is way more than I have ever managed and I am pleased with myself and the results. I hope I have convinced a few people that Ranger products, although wonderful in themselves, do not NEED to be used to acheive good results.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Playing catch up

I am still feeling pretty rough and still hacking and coughing over everthing but I have managed two more of Tim's tags (although not of best quality as I cant seem to concentrate for that long). I am still pondering a work-around day 4 tag but I do have a bit of an idea which I want to work on. However here are tags 5 and 6. Tag 5 was done more or less as perscribed, except I used a different stamp and ordinary embossing powder. I did try using gold acrylic paint but even though I dried it, once I started to distress, it all got washed off, so I ended up embossing the swirls as well.

Tag 6 was a little harder. I found an .svg file on the net for both the car and the tree (yes I did cut them a little too small but didnt feel up to starting again. I then embossed both the car (black) and the tree (Golden Ocean), then to replace the fluffy soft stuff, I used Personal Impressions Puff White embossing powder. The background is an old sheet of Daisy D which I rubbed over with Tea Dye distress ink, because I really do feel guilty about damaging books, and just cant bring myself to use the pages in scrapping. The sentiment again I have printed out onto transparancy and glued on using the xyron machine.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Chest infection

I have started tag 4 and have plans for day 5 tag but right now my chest is too tight and coughing over embossing powder is not really helpful to making beautiful creations so tags are on hold for the mo.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Old hat!

As much as I love love love what Tim Holtz does with his wonderful Ranger's products as we all know there really isnt anything new under the sun, and so it goes with his Day three tag. I had seen this plaid technique many years ago at a demo stand at Ally Pally, The lady there was using a Kaleidacolor pad and a rubber brayer to achieve much the same result.

But hey! For once I did actually own some Alcohol Inks giving me the opportunity to try out both ways.
As I said yesterday, I dont have a blending tool, but I got round that by taping a bit of ordinary felt onto an acrylic blog, which worked well enough.

My first attempts, where I used all of the 8 colours of alcohol ink turned out a bit of a disaaarster (Said in best Craig Revel Hallwood voice)

so I tried with my Kaleidacolor Calyspos pad and breyer. I was much happier with this but felt it was too dark for printing straight onto and will use it later to try some cut out silhoettes
I finally got closer to what I wanted by using only three Alcoholic inks - butterscotch, bottle and terracota. I used a Black Impress dual marker to draw in the black lines, the trees (I didnt have the stamp) and the spatters.

I have to say, I dont like this tag anywhere near as much as the first two, although it is a fun technique to have under your belt, which is probably why it hasnt turned out so brilliantly. I think if I did it again I would use a stamp and black embossing powder to get the picture onto the background and I am not at all happy with the drawn black lines, but I am pleased I still managed to find a 'get-around' for one more of Tim's tags without spending a huge fortune on new products.

In other news.
The supply agency is still providing very little work - yesterday I agreed (as a PR exercise) to work as a Nursery nurse over on the island. It seemed the agency had messed up the booking and couldnt get anyone to cover the day. As it turned out I wasnt really needed. I was helping in a KCC run creche while mum's were on a cookery course. I dont know if it was the cold weather or the proximity to christmas but as it was they ended up with only 5 children in the morning and 4 in the afternoon, and well overstaffed! I was also dead bored as it is really little more than a baby sitting exercise. As I said though I hope it was good PR.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Tags without Tim

Well really its tags without Tim's products. I have now had a go at Tim Holtz's day two tag and again managed something on very limited Ranger products.

Tim's second tag involved firstly stamping a frame image from his stamp collection but of course I didnt have a frame - infact the only frame I own is a really old one by Anna Griffin that is in a set I bought from QVC on a whim and then never used they never would stick to the acrylic blocks. It turned out there was a fault in the rubber of that batch but by the time that was discovered, I couldnt find my QVC reciept so they never did get returned.

Tim embossed his frame stamp with distressed embossing powder - I of course had to settle for ordinary gold embossing powder.

Surprise, the background that Tim colour washed with blended distress inks? I actually owned 2 of the 3 colours he used, and only had to sub the green with SU! garden green, and I blended the whole lot using a baby wipe as, you guessed it, I dont have a blending applicator and felts. (Are you all feeling sorry for me yet?)

I ended up printing the Seasons Greetings sentiment (Rosewood font) as I didnt have any rubber stamp fonts I liked. The swirls are the edge of SU!'s Baroque Motifs swirl, stamped with more Garden Green ink.

The splatters posed a bit of a problem until I remembered I had some Tesco Craft Metalic silver which I mixed with some white acrylic paint, and I am fairly pleased with the results. I will admit that despite Sir Tim's warnings to cover anything not to be splattered I still ended up with a snow flecked key board!!

Finally I finished with the only bit of metal I could find and then remember those snowflakes I used as masks yesterday? Now covered in black embossing powder they gave just the right finishing touch.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sir Tim's Tags

Let me apolgise for the poor photos in advance.

Yesterday Sir Tim started his annual '12 tags for Christmas' classes and as usual the two we have had so far are lush. The trouble is in order to duplicate them he suggests a very long list of his Ranger products, none of which I own. So I thought I would have a go using what I had to hand.

I do own 5 distress ink pads but none the colour I wanted. However long before distress inks it was possible to produce the inky background effects that Tim is so brilliant at using watercolour paints so having used my baby Cricut (and the George cart) to cut out a suitable tag I nabbed my blue watercolours and set to work.

Ok not so good as it could have been but I was fairly pleased with the results.I used exactly the same technique as described on Tim's blog just mixed in paint instead of ink.

Once I had dried off the paint I used studio G snowflake stamps and Stazon ink, while the swirls are Heidi Grace, stamped on using SU! Ballet Blue. I used Ranger Crackle Glaze as a sub for new rang of but it did a similar job, and I love the cracking sound it made as I gently heated it to dry.

I couldnt find a snowman ,svg online that I liked, and none of my existing snowmen stamps were of a suitable size but this reindeer svg from Wanda's blog which, with its swirly antlers I thought would fit the bill. In order to get the background effect I cut out a few snowflakes and used them as masks, so that I could ink the reindeer all over with versimark and emboss with black powder.

For the rest of the tag I used similar techniques but substituted a few more products - white paint was Reeves (cheap from Tesco), which I rubbed over both the die cut and the tag, I made the icicles with pva glue and Glamour dust. At least the ribbon was a-la-Tim!

No where near as good as the talented man but at least it inspired me and I am really pleased with it.