Ooh, look what Jean’s done!


We are not the only ones bringing out new products.  Jean at Crafty Individuals has recently launched a collection of masks and dies.  The dies are low profile just like Memory Box or Die-Namics and the designs are elegant and fine.  The masks are petite and delicate – I’ve never seen masks like these before and they are an ideal size for cards and tags.

The photo above shows the results of my first evening’s play with one die (Lacewing Butterfly) and several of the little meadow masks and the Floral Grid.

As soon as I saw the ferns and grasses masks, I thought of our Wild Meadow stamp set, so I began by arranging the masks on white card and misting over lightly with my home made sprays (distress re-inkers and water in a spritzer bottle – simple and cheap) using green and yellow.  I moved the masks around and spritzed again with yellow and orange tones, then added a light mist of blue at the top and left it to dry.  I cut the Lacewing Butterfly from lime green mirri card and added a touch of Lime stickles to it and put that aside to dry.

I found a sheet of blue card that toned well with the colours I’d used, so folded it in half and used the masks (after cleaning them) on the front of the card.   I used Memento Pistachio and Teal Zeal inks to stipple over the masks with a large stencil brush.   I wanted to concentrate the colour in the middle of the flowerhead and fade it out, so the stippling action worked well.  I added a little of the same colours in the opposite corner to balance the design.

Once everything was dry, I trimmed my spritzed piece and mounted onto a canvas textured card, then added some pearls and gems to the butterfly before sticking everything down.  I finished off with the little sentiment from Best Relative Ever (fast becoming a ‘go to’ stamp set for a quick greeting).

I had a piece of the white canvas card left after trimming the layer for the first card, so placed the meadowsweet mask on it and without adding more ink to my stencil brush, I swirled the brush over it.  Not only did I get the masked image, but I loved the way the brush was picking up the texture of the card too.  So I repeated this several times, adding stronger colour as I went and using the same two inkpads – Pistachio and Teal Zeal.   (Hey, they were already out on the table so I didn’t have to get up and walk, ooh all of  two paces, to get a different colour!)

I decided this would look pretty on a cream square card and I knew I had a snippet of sage ribbon which would go with the colours.  It literally was a snippet – I had to eke it out by leaving a big gap under the actual stamped panel.  It looked a bit plain, so I used the Floral Grid mask to add the same colours in the corners.  As this is a repeat pattern, it didn’t matter that it was slightly smaller than my card – I could colour a bit and move it up to do the next bit.  It lines up perfectly so in theory you could cover a whole wall if you wanted to!

But I had set myself a challenge to see what I could do in a couple of hours, so I left the walls well alone and reached for the embossing powder.  I put the mask onto aqua card and pressed a Versamark pad over it.  To be on the safe side, I also swirled it around with a clean brush before lifting the stencil off.  Pressing an inkpad over a stencil or mask doesn’t always get the ink into all the detail and you can’t really see when using Versamark.

It worked and I embossed with a twinkly blue powder (it’s an old workshop one in a tub, so not entirely sure of the brand or colour).  The design reminded me of those mediaeval or tudor hair nets with seed pearls all over so added a pearl at each intersection.  I decided it would make a great topper for a gift box and dug out the Groovy-Duo to put a quick box together.  I wrapped teal ribbon around the side and almost put a bow on, but decided it looked fine without.

So there you go, three projects all done within two hours.  I love playing with new stash!

Now before I go, I have a quick question for you.  I’ve written how I’ve made these in what we call conversational style (I did this, then I did that), but I wonder if you’d prefer it presented projects like this in a step by step style (do this, then do that) with a list of materials used.

Let me know what you prefer because it’s easy enough to do either.

Have a great weekend,



Keep Calm … there’s new stamps!


I bought the original red Keep Calm poster from Barter Books in Alnwick back in about 2002, long before it became a global phenomenon.  I had it on my office wall for many years and still have the poster now.  Many times I have glanced up at the poster and taken a deep breath, absorbed the words and repeated them, mantra-like, while dealing with some petty crisis or other.  I think it stood me in good stead for when the major crises came our way – by then the motto was ingrained and automatic.

The phrase has been so over-used, commercialised and parodied in the last few years that it’s hard to remember its original purpose (to keep the British upper lip as stiff as possible during WW2) and see the soothing common sense of the message.  It’s great life advice for anyone, anytime really.  Having said that, I think my favourite parody is “GET EXCITED AND STAMP SOMETHING”.

Anyway, philosophizing aside (is that a word?), this card is made with the latest stamps from Crafty Individuals which we have just got onto the website today.  There’s a great mix of vintage and retro Britannia – perfect for all things celebratory with the Jubilee and Olypmics here this year.  I stamped the patchwork Union Jack onto a selection of papers from the Essence of Nature CD and cut and pieced the flag together.  I wanted a very simple, faded vintage look.  The card edge is sponged with Stormy Sky distress ink.

We have also launched a new stamp set of our own today too – this one is going to be a well used set, it’s called Artistic Expressions and it’s the little black dress of stamping – it goes with anything!

It’s so new, I don’t have any finished artwork with it yet (lots of stamped and die cut words and sentiments), but the Design Team do and if you check out the DT blog, they’ll be showing it off soon.  I’m also giving away a free set on the Design Team blog, so pop over and leave a comment to be in with a chance to win.  The winner will be announced on Tuesday, so it’s just for this weekend.

I managed to get some better photos of the tags I made last weekend, so thought I’d show you them in more detail.  I’ve angled them so you can see the embossing.

Stencils used were Pomegranate and Circle Explosion

Stencils used were Spring Fling and Circle Grid

This uses the two part stencil Poppies.

Have a great weekend, we’re off to Cumbria to visit St Oswald’s church in Grasmere.  A sentimental journey to visit the place where Adrian and I were married fifteen years ago.   Nothing to do with the Grasmere Gingerbread shop in the corner of the churchyard.  No, not at all.  Honest.

PS – if you are a Guild member, log in to your account and go to the Guild Offers department for special prices on the new stamps.

A Crafty Individuals Card

Approximate time to make this card: 1 year, 2 months, three weeks, two days and 10 minutes.

The various components of this card have been floating around since last year.  Just about every single element was once part of a different card that didn’t work out for whatever reason.  The green Spirit of Christmas backing paper was actually intended to be the other way up on a landscape card; the white scallop circle is cut from watercolour paper and was going to get painted and scrunched up into a flower; the embossed green circle was going to be the basis of a wreath (it turned out like this in the end); and the ribbon bow was the last scrap of that particular ribbon so that of course made it hard to let go of it!

So all these bits ended up in a box marked Christmas and I thought I’d have a dig through the box and see if anything spoke to me.  This one is unusual for me as there is no stamping!  The image is from a Crafty Individuals Christmas pad and I spotted it in the mix and everything just fell together very quickly.  About ten minutes actually!

To make it from scratch the most time consuming element was the wreath which is still pretty quick.  I used masking tape to hold two nestie circles in place on the card and cut them both together to make the wreath shape.  I embossed it with a holly embossing folder then coloured the whole thing with green paint.  I’m trying to remember which paint I used and I think it may have been Inka Gold, the wax based paint from Viva.

The Santa image is glued to the back of the wreath, then the ribbon holds the wreath and scalloped circle together.  The ribbon is glued to the inside of the card and the wreath dangles on the front and moves around.

I have some more cards I made recently, but I’m fighting computers at the moment.  The photos are on my main computer which is not working again – this is now the fourth graphics card to fail in a year!  My laptop is out of disk space and my big backup disk has also decided this would be a good time to fail completely as well.  Don’t you just love technology!

Keeping it Simple

When was the last time you created something super simple?

Two of these cards feature Filigree Blocks, coloured with two shades of ink, then overstamped with a greeting.  A simple flower embellishment or line of pearl gems finishes them off.

Sometimes there’s a quiet satisfaction in something very understated and uncluttered.  I hadn’t really thought about it when I made these, but I think they reflect a desire for simplicity – something Adrian and I would like a little more of in our lives at the moment please.

Here’s another simple card that I made recently using Crafty Individual papers.

That gorgeous ribbon is one that I’ve been hoarding for ages.  I have lots of things that I have been hoarding and I’m determined to get some of my gorgeous stash out and actually use it.  Sound familiar?  Maybe it’s the spring nesting instinct kicking in, but I’m hearing lots of people saying the same thing at the moment.

My creative output is nowhere near what it used to be, but I am not fighting it, just letting the muse strike when it will.  I’m really looking forward to our Birthday Bash this weekend as I might actually get to watch some of the demonstrations for a change. I do need to make myself a crown though …

[Quick family update: Derrick is back in Durham hospital after Adrian found him on the bathroom floor this morning.  He has yet another chest infection so they thought it best to take him in and this time they’re talking about possibly sending him home via a rehab nursing home rather than straight home from the ward – that actually sounds sensible for once!]