Thursday, 26 November 2009


As promised, here are photos of all the pages I created for my "Paraphernalia" board book.  It was great fun making this, especially having a different title to work on for each page, and I really got engrossed in working on it.  Each page in the board book I chose to use had a curved top to it (like a handle) which was ideal because I could stamp the title on each one, as you can see from the pics. 

If you've never thought of altering a child's board book before, then I'd encourage you to have a go - you can pick them up cheaply in all sorts of places (charity shops, car boots, discount book stores, pound shops).  Start off by preparing the board book either the hard way (sanding the surface of each page to form a 'key') or the easy way (if you're very lucky, you can peel away the top thin layer of the page leaving the white inner card core).  Once you've done this, paint a layer of gesso over every page, front and back.  When this has dried, you're up and running ...... you can throw more or less anything at these books, paints, inks, papers, stamping, collage, embellishing ...... just anything you fancy trying out really.

This is the front and back covers.  I used acrylic paints, then stamped a pattern in purple and pink over the pages, and buffed the edges with gold metallic rub-on.  The swirly paper on the front cover was created using a child's SpinArt toy (great fun!) and the word "Paraphernalia" was added using an assortment of alphabet stickers (you don't have to stick to all the same font style for something like this - we've probably all got sets of alphabet stickers where there aren't enough vowels left or only one "T" or something so we can't make up a word with what's left - then using them in this way still works and adds a touch of quirkiness).  I added my details on a torn strip of decorative paper to the back of the book along with a dictionary definition of "paraphernalia", then finished off by threading some fancy fibres and a couple of beads down the length of the spine.

This is my "Time" page (acrylic paint, stamping, torn dictionary page, cut out words, a Crafty Individuals image and metal embellishment knotted with gold elastic thread).

"My Childhood" Page (decorative paper, inked edges, stamped words, a photo of Lindsay and I, handwriting, paper flowers with brad centres and a flower ribbon 'daisy' border).

This is the "Vintage Transport" Page (a collage of torn vintage transport papers and figures designed by Lindsay, a faux stamp and a rubber stamped penny farthing covered with Glossy Accents).

My "Fly Me to the Moon" Page (inked background, stamped and coloured images, acetate tree image, child and butterfly wings from Crafty Individuals, butterfly silhouette shapes and self-sticking ribbon border).

The "Gone Fishing" (for dreams) Page (painted background, fairy and fish paper images with Glossy Accents, pond weed cut from angelina fibres overlaid with alcohol inked acrylic, rubber stamped dragonfly and words).

I chose Summer for my "Seasons" Page (paper with ink distressed edges, a pocket containing a tag with fibres and charms, rub-on word, stamped sun, Crafty Individual image and metal embellishment).

I used all sorts of things on this "French at Heart" Page (stamped tissue paper laid over decorative papers and stamping, a stamped and embossed frame with a Parisian-themed image inside, covered with beads, Paris stickers, a stamped heart shape with feathers and a French coin).

Here is the "Lighthouses" Page (I stamped seashells onto the inked background, the sand was torn strips of more inked background paper, with various images, words and postage stamp added).

Well, this was my "Zetti" Page - or my attempt at it anyway (acrylic paints blended for the background, zetti-type stamped image which I altered with a black pen, a stamped cat image tinted with white pen, then various swirls, dots and words added with Marvy Le Plume pens).

For my "Very Extraordinary Queen" Page I just had to use this image I found of Queen Elizabeth I, as I've always believed her to be one of our greatest monarchs.  I used acrylic paints for the background then handwrote various quotes and facts all around her face to fill the page.  I used some self-adhesive crystals and pearls to highlight her ruff and 'coronet'.

This is the "Gothic Architecture" Page (again, the background was done with acrylic paints, then collaged over with architectural imagery from an old sepulchral book that we have, an acetate 'gargoyle' image and a distressed piece of text about gothic architecture, plus some stamping in sepia ink).

This is the final "Angel Shrine" Page.  I had an extra page in the board book so I had the idea of cutting out the shrine shape in one page, then gluing it down over the angel image on the inside back page.  I stamped and embossed the shrine onto matboard, over a painted/torn paper background.  The heart if a Tim Holtz grungeboard one which I inked up, then added a layer of Beadazzles (microbeads) across the shrine and heart with Glossy Accents.  The "angel" quote was stamped onto the page.

Before I sign off for the night, thanks for the comments already received and I've added your names in for the Christmas draw - but sorry, folks, I'm afraid you'll have to make do with the bead kits and ATC - Mia is definitely NOT part of the deal!  *LOL*

A Little Christmas Giveaway

What dreadful weather we're having this week, it's not stopped raining and the gales are terrific (though we haven't been suffering the same as those poor folk up in Cumbria who've all had to leave their homes due to the massive flooding) ..... anyway, instead of going into town to do my Christmas shopping I've stayed home, catching up on some of my art swaps and projects.

I thought I would have a little Christmas themed giveaway.  I have two cross stitch/beadng kits to make Christmas tree ornaments, plus a Christmas Angel ATC, which I will send to the first person picked at random on FRIDAY, 4TH DECEMBER.  If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning these items, then please just leave a comment on my blog between now and Thursday, 3rd December - remember to include an email or blog address so that I can contact you if you win! 

Here are the two kits - a Charmed Santa Face and a Holiday Beaded Jewel ornament.  They aren't difficult to make, but they're lovely keepsakes for your Christmas tree.

I also created a Christmassy ATC to go along with the kits for the giveaway.  The background for this card is a photo of my Christmas tree last year, to which I've added a strip of deckle-edged alcohol-inked glossy card, stamped with festive words, layered over another strip of creamy paper, with a glittery ribbon secured between the layers.  The angel image is from one of Crafty Individual's little books and I've finished the ATC with a star brad (it was blue so I used a gold Krylon pen to change it and then added a little bit of sparkle with a Sakura Stardust gel pen) and some words cut from an old dictionary.

I've been making a few more ATCs this week as well, some for a "general theme" monthly partner swap that I take part in.  Here's what I've been making:-

I also completed all the pages for a board book swap - "Paraphernalia" - each page had a separate theme chosen by members of the swap.  It's now waiting to be packed up and posted out to its new home (I'll try and post pics of it tomorrow).

Finally, little Mia is 14 weeks old today, so I thought I'd post a few pics of her so you can see how much she has grown - all her Siamese features are becoming much more pronounced now, her face has a sweet chocolate mask, her ears, legs and tail are getting very dark brown and she has a darker line running along her spine too - her tail still has its pigtail curl though!  We also found out that Mia is three-quarters Siamese and one-quarter Bengal (what a mix!!!! ..... we're definitely in for some fun!) ...... her latest favourite game is to chase little balls of screwed up paper and retrieve them - she drops them at our feet ready and waiting for us to throw them again.

Here's Mia, in three quite different moods ........

looking sweet and innocent, washing herself (check out the little pink tongue) .....

........ in playful mood with her favourite ball of paper ......

and drinking water from her own special glass (Mia decided this is much more interesting than using a bowl) .......

Monday, 23 November 2009

Guardian Angel Swap

Hi, just a few lines to say there's still time to join in my Guardian Angel/Ornament swap - these aren't due to me until the 5th December.  So if you fancy a bit of a challenge and you have a bit of free time (yes, I know, WHAT free time, you're asking, with Christmas looming ever nearer), then why not give it a go?  I've made my angel ATC for the swap (no picture yet, sorry) and now have to work on my ornament ..... but if you want to see what Sheila King came up with for this swap, then go check out her blog.  I can't wait to see what these look like in real life!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Back from Harrogate

Well, I finally went and did it ...... I came home with one package too many from the Harrogate K&S Show and I've been wandering around trying to find a home for it (IT being wool - some Manos Silk yarn to knit a shawl/wrap and some James Brett Marble Chunky for a winter jumper) ..... it's now all just sitting in a bag in the bedroom, taking up floor space.  So - that's it - I've finally reached the point where I can't cram anything else into the house, so my New Year's Resolution has GOT to be to have a good clear out in the spare room/craft room and make some ROOM !!  The alternative is to throw my son out of the house and take over his bedroom as it has the most storage space (some great cupboard and shelf space which is definitely being wasted on him)!  *LOL*

Anyhow, had a lovely day out at the Harrogate show, lots of interesting stuff to look at (though not much in the way of papercrafting), and apart from the wool, I also picked up a few shimmery fabric scraps and braid, a Krylon gold pen at a really good price (this was a definite must-buy as my gold pen had run out and I just can't do without my Krylons - I love them for edging or sponging on my ATCs and books) and some Indian print woodblocks which will find a use as stamps in my artwork.  Here's a couple of pics of them.

There were several exhibitions running at the Show and I wish I'd taken my camera now .... I thought I wouldn't be able to take photos, but several people were clicking away at some of the exhibits, so I missed out there.  One exhibit was of a large fishing boat which had been completely covered in knitting, even down to the sea foam, pebbles, water, etc, all around its base.  I remember reading a magazine article about it some time back - visit this BBC link to read more about the project.  I was most impressed by the beautiful and unusual work of a textile artist called Jill Flower - I was fascinated by the Elizabethan style ruffs she had created in very fine detail from paper, words and stitchery.  Click on her name to go to her website to view some of these wonderful pieces in her Gallery.  Unfortunately, you can't get the full effect and see all the tiny details from photos.  I believe she is going to be running workshops (where, I don't know) creating paper brooches using this ruff technique.

On a different subject, if any of you enjoy making "inchies" or fancy having a go at some, go check out Ali's Art Factory blog where she has given herself a challenge to create 10 inchies every day for 10 days and then combine all 100 finished squares into one art piece.  Also, whilst you're there, check out the altered book Ali made with "Tags" as the theme .... it might inspire you to try altering a book yourself too.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

An Unusual Necklace

Can't believe it's a week since I last posted; the days are just flying by and, frustratingly, I've not had a lot of time to sneak off into my "craft room" (AKA the spare room) to do much art ..... and as for the speed Christmas is approaching, I daren't even think about that ...... I'm really not organised at all (I think I get less organised every year)!

Anyhow, it's an early start in the morning for me as I'm off to the Knitting & Stitching Show at Harrogate with a friend - the coach picks us up from the centre of town at 8.15am.  I've not been to many shows this year, but this one has to be one of my favourites - there are so many stands to visit (and spend money at) as well as lots of interesting exhibitions.  It's quite a challenge to get round it all and have a good look at everything before it's time to catch the coach home again.  I've got a sort of list to take with me of a few bits and pieces that I'd like to buy, but if I'm true to form, I won't stick to it at all and will end up buying something entirely different! 

I plan to wear this piece of jewellery tomorrow and I wonder if any of you know what the centre piece is made of (or maybe you've seen it before ...... I was commissioned to create a necklace using this unusual "cabochon" by the UK "Bead" magazine a year or two back).  The colours weren't ones I normally would have selected to use together - the bright reds and blues - but I had some large dyed fossil beads in these colours in my stash and they were perfect for what I envisaged.  Part of the necklace was created using Zulu Stitch and the cabochon was embellished with clusters of pearly shells.  The necklace is reversible as the patterning on the cabochon is different on either side.

Well, did you guess yet?

Can you believe that it's actually made of CAR PAINT?  It's called Fordite (of course, what else?!) and was only available in limited quantities.  Apparently, it's composed of layers of car paint retrieved from an old car manufacturing site which were compressed together to create these amazing swirly patterns.  It's also a very light material so extremely comfortable to wear.

Finally, if any of you are interested in creating chunky books and want to learn a little more about the process, then pop over to Treez Malyon's blog where she's running a very thorough tutorial on a Marie Antoinette book she's creating.  It's very inspiring and might whet your appetite for having a go at making one yourself in the New Year!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Here is the latest photo of little Mia - she is 12 weeks old today and getting to be a right cheeky madam.  She's as bright as a button and as naughty as she can be, but very cute with it, so she gets away with everything!

I hope some of you will have a go at joining in my Guardian Angel ATC/Ornament swap - you really can interpret this any way you like, just have some fun with it.  Joanne has already made her ATC and ornament (which looks wonderful) for this swap so go check them out on her blog for a bit of inspiration! 

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

My "Dream Journey" Journal came home!

As promised, here are pictures of the wonderful "Dream Journey" journal that came home to me a little while back.  This had been a round robin journal hosted by Ali Brandist - we each chose a title for our book and a rubber stamp that we didn't mind being without for a year, then we created the front and back covers, decorated them with the stamped image and words, and sent our books on to the next person in the RR circle.  Each person then created a page in that book, using the stamp they'd been sent and adding some words as well.  It was lovely to get the chance to see what other people created in each journal as they passed through our hands. 

When we started this journal, it seemed a long ways off before we'd see them again, but here they are, a year later, well-travelled and back home again.  I hope you enjoy looking at the pages in my journal as much as I do.

The front cover

Inside front cover and Page 1 by Mima Lewis

Pages 2 and 3 by Alison Brandist

Page 4 by Martha Rose Bond and Page 5 by Tracy Kaufman

Pages 6 and 7 by Karen Mercado

Pages 8 and 9 by Elena Vigil-Farinas

Pages 10 and 11 by Sandra Zengler

Pages 12 and 13 by Paula Sherman

Inside Back Covers

Back Cover

There is one double-page spread still blank in my journal as I'd added extra pages, so Graham has said that he would like to have a go at creating something on them for me too. 

I just love the feel of holding this little 4" x 4" chunky book in my hands, it is full of texture and embellishments, ribbons and charms - it is so charming and every time I look at it I see something new.  A big 'thank you' to all the artists who participated!

Now ..... if something like this appeals to enough of you, I'm thinking about organising a chunky book round robin through my blog after the New Year .... what do you all think?

Finally, I'd love to see more of you sign up to the Guardian Angel ATC and Ornament swap ...... if the 5th December deadline is putting anyone off, I may be able to extend the deadline by a few more days - but at the same time, I really don't want to leave it too late, I'd like everyone to receive their swaps before Christmas.  If you do fancy having a go, just drop me an email and I'll send full details.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

New Swap - Guardian Angel ATC and Ornament

Lindsay let me know that my background went missing after I posted the witchy slideshow, so I just fixed it and used a different one for now - I think I must've deleted the original background when I was messing about adding a slideshow!

Okay - so as promised, here is a new Swap for you all.  I was chatting with my sister on the phone one day when I turned round and there on the windowsill next to me was a small white feather - the window was shut so I didn't know how it got there.  Lindsay said that seeing a feather like that unexpectedly meant my guardian angel was watching over me.  I'd never heard that before and it became the inspiration for this Swap.

In this Swap you will create one ATC with the image of a "guardian angel" (any style and medium) and one Christmas/Seasonal Ornament (the main body of this will be ATC-sized but any shape within that size and as heavily embellished/decorated as you like.  The embellishing can extend beyond the size of the ATC.  The ornament should also be decorated front and back and have some means of hanging eg a beaded loop or ribbons.

The deadline for this Swap will have to be 5TH DECEMBER in order to give me enough time to swap out and beat the Christmas post.  I've added the swap details in the sidebar.  If you want to participate in this swap, please email me to sign up and to receive full details of what is involved in this swap.  I do hope you'll all have a go at this one and give full reign to your imagination!

(Chunky book pics will be posted as soon as I can, as promised)!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Witchy ATC Swap Slideshow

Whew, after a lot of phaffing around - and I'm still not that happy with the result - I've managed to upload a slideshow of sorts of all the Witchy ATCs I received for the swap - you can view it in the sidebar.  Sorry it's not better, for the life of me I can't reduce the size so that it doesn't get cut off on one edge!  I've tried two or three different sources, all with the same result.  Sorry - will try harder and do better next time!  *LOL*  At least you can browse through them all and see what everyone did - don't they look great?

Anyway, it's taken me so long that I've not got time now to add the chunky book pics tonight; will have to save them for another day.

We took Mia along to the vets today for her "weigh-in".  The vet was happy with her progress and she has gone from 0.4 kgs to 0.5 kgs in one week - so that is very good.  We must be doing something right!

More "Mia" Photos !

Well, I had planned to post some pictures of my first round robin journal that "came back home" recently - it looks gorgeous so I wanted to share it with you.  However, it's way too late now to upload lots of pics, so I'll try and do it tomorrow.

Instead, here are some more recent photos of little Mia - who is getting cheekier and livelier every day now.  Her fur looks healthier, she is doing all the kittenish things she should be doing and appears to be growing and filling out.  We need to take her to the vets soon for her "weigh-in"!  We sat down with fish and chips for our dinner the other night and the moment she got a whiff of the fish, she began screaming at the top of her little lungs and practically climbing onto our plates to get at it!  Ended up having to flake off a few little pieces and put them in a dish for her in order to eat our own dinners in peace.  We've also been through the same performance with chicken !  (Nothing wrong with her appetite)!  And of course, being mostly Siamese, Mia is going to be - well, is already - a very vocal pussycat!

Here she is, playing with Max, and grabbing at her favourite toy, a piece of string!

I popped Mia onto an old video case so you can see the size of her!

And here she is next to my mobile phone (I know it's not the smallest or newest of mobiles but it's not huge either)!

Doesn't Mia just look so cute stretched out like this, fast asleep?

Now she is beginning to look like a proper Siamese kitten - everyone has fallen in love with her!

Well, that's it for tonight ..... got to get a few hours sleep now ..... hope to post again tomorrow.

Oh, and keep watching over the weekend - I'm planning on posting details of a new swap then! 

Monday, 2 November 2009

Making Smiles on Faces

I received this Making Smiles on Faces award from my sister, Lindsay, and the idea is to pass it on to five other people and reveal five interesting (not-so-interesting) facts about myself! 

So the five people I'm passing this on to are:-

Ali's Art Factory - Ali has become a good friend through some of the ATC and altered art groups we belong to and hosts some fantastic swaps - she has a wonderful imagination.

Art by Impulse - Treez has some beautiful pieces of work displayed on her blog (which looks gorgeous too!) and interesting techniques to try out as well.

Autumn Blues and Rainy Days - Suze has some fabulous-looking zetti work on her blog, I just love it!

The Sum of All Crafts - Val regularly posts a wonderful assortment of free images to use in art projects along with a whole variety of techniques and artwork. 

My Name is Elena - Elena is a lovely and generous-spirited soul, who is going through some very tough times right now, so she could do with a few smiles right now.

Okay, so ..... five facts about me .......

1)  I worked as a Typist with the Blackpool police for several years and was there when George Sewell committed an armed robbery at a local jewellers which resulted in the shooting and injury of several police officers and the death of Supt Gerry Richardson, all of whom I knew and worked for.  Gerry was at that time the highest ranking police officer to be murdered in the UK.

2)  I went to South Africa for three weeks when I was 21 with my boyfriend (later first husband) to stay with my penpal and his fiancee. 

3)  I have eaten (or attempted to eat) snails in garlic butter - not a pleasant texture, all black and rubbery!

4)  For a year my husband and I lived in Whitby and rented a house which was rumoured to be the one that Bram Stoker stayed in whilst writing "Dracula".

5)  I have a small collection of vintage buttons.

Well, I did say they might be not-so-interesting facts!  Now it's time to sign off and get some sleep, I'm doing the late shift with Mia!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Just popping in very briefly to say I still am in the land of living, just not had any time to come online for a day or two - we seem to have been doing nothing besides kitten-sitting and sleeping and in the odd hours I've had free I've been catching up on everyday chores and commitments!  Mia seems to be doing well right now, her fur is more fluffy and we think she is filling out a little bit - still too early to tell - but she's definitely developing her own character, very determined, full of curiosity about everything, not easily phased by anything and highly affectionate.  Will post more pics soon, but thanks to everyone who has sent positive thoughts little Mia's way.

Will try and post a bit more over the next day or two, as I've quite a bit I want to add.  It's just that old eternal cry of "I need more hours in the day (and night)!"