Saturday, 30 May 2015

Caturday: Sawyer

Meet Sawyer, a beautiful ginger boy who belongs to one of my long-time customers, Sue. Here he is, sunbathing against Sue’s craft room. She says he usually goes inside with her and snoozes on the bean bag next to her while she is creating. Sue makes beautiful projects and, with such a beautiful companion to help her, we now know her secret!

You don’t need to be a customer of mine to have your cat feature on Caturday – just email me a pic with a short description and your pride and joy could be next! 

Today I’m off to a car boot sale to attempt to sell what seems to be the entire contents of our house. We’re having a major clear-out ahead of our building work this summer, and hope to raise some cash in the process. Some of my older craft items are coming with me but there will be plenty more for sale soon!

Friday, 29 May 2015

Mixed Media By the Tide scene

If you had to name your favourite animal, it probably wouldn’t be a lobster, would it? But a US friend of mine is a huge fan of these particular crustaceans so, when I made this project, I knew I just had to send it to her. 

And now, at last this card has reached its destination on the other side of The Pond, so I can post it on my blog.  To be fair, the US Postal Service isn’t entirely to blame for the delay; I’ve been meaning to post it to my lobster-loving friend for weeks but kept forgetting.  

It’s a mixed media project, as you can see, and this time I was heavily inspired by Italian crafter Barbarayaya. I loved her underwater scene and couldn’t resist recreating her gorgeous project using SU supplies. 

Here’s what I did:
  1. I stamped Gorgeous Grunge splodges quite liberally over a piece of Whisper White cardstock in Versamark and embossed with clear powder. 
  2. I sponged the background over the top with green and blue inks. The ink simply wiped away from the embossed areas.
  3. I stamped the weeds in Cajun Craze.
  4. For the border, I stuck some Typeset DSP to some Whisper White cardstock (to give it more strength) and cut it out using the Square Framelits Dies. 
  5. Next I sponged it with various brown inks.
  6. I pressed the whole border into my Versamark pad so that it was completely covered, then dipped it into clear embossing powder and heat set. This is raised up onto the background using dimensionals.
  7. The sea creatures are created in the same way. I stamped and sponged them to colour them; no worrying about going over the lines because I then cut them out. 
  8. Again I pressed them into my Versamark pad and embossed them with clear embossing powder. 
  9. The finishing touches are some cut-out words (from a SAB set) and some Bermuda Bay sequins. 
  10. It’s mounted onto a square Crumb Cake card base. 
So, out of interest... what IS your favourite animal? I will be very surprised to hear of any other lobster fans! 

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

In Color comparison... and tutorial to add the new colours to My Digital Studio

Let’s talk colour again today, shall we? In Colors to be precise. 

I have now come full circle and fallen in love with the In Colors. My full set of ink pads and cardstock arrived yesterday and I realised that they are “dirty” colours, which appeals to me (I still mourn the loss of Summer Starfruit).

But every year there are comparisons with existing and old colours, with people wondering why SU has come out with something so similar to X, Y or Z. 

The reason, of course, is fashion. Trends come and go and these colours are bang on trend. Yes, Mint Macaron (have you been practising your French accents?) may be similar to Sage Shadow from the past, but it’s not exactly the same. If you’re not the pedantic sort, are happy with “nearly the same” and still have your old Sage Shadow ink pad, go ahead and use it; it will probably work pretty well with Mint Macaron cardstock and go quite nicely with the other new colours. 

But if, like me, you’re a pedant, “nearly the same” won’t be good enough and your Sage Shadow ink pad will be long gone. 

If you still have all your old ink pads, though, and want to compare, I’ve done a handy chart, so you can see where these new colours differ from previous shades. Please bear in mind that these are screen colours which will vary according to your monitor. 

And while we’re on the subject of colour, several people have asked me how to get the new colours into My Digital Studio. As you are probably aware, MDS has been discontinued and will no longer be updated, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop using it. 

(In the interests of honesty, I didn’t know how to get the new colours into MDS either, but a quick email to Demonstrator Support put me on the right lines.) 

So, here’s how to get the new In Colors into your version of MDS. You can’t name them (or, if you can, I haven’t worked out how!) but you can save them into Favourites, so you can access them easily. I plan to delete them as they retire, so that I never have more than 10 favourites in there, which should enable me to work out which is which quite easily. 

  • Take a screen grab of the In Colors from the PDF of the catalogue (this will be available to customers on 2nd June) and save it into the relevant pictures folder
  • In a new MDS project, drag this image onto the page
  • Next, drag a punch shape onto the project and click Match Color
  • Select Watermelon Wonder, as shown in the below image, and click OK

  • Click Color Fill and you’ll see the Preview panel (above, left) is Watermelon Wonder - at the bottom right, you have the option to Add to Favorites
  • Repeat for the remaining four In Colors
  • Now, when you want to access these colours, click Color Fill and then, at the top right, click Favorites; your five new colours should be there (see pic, above right)
  • Also, you can discover the RGB values of any of the colours, for instance for use in another programme, such as Photoshop. Simply select your colour and then, along the top, click RGB to see the values. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Sprinkles of Life bird on a branch sneak peek

Somebody once said you shouldn’t buy a stamp set unless you have at least three ideas for it. Pah! I just buy the sets I like and, if the ideas don’t flow naturally, I borrow other people’s from tinternet. 

But this set is one which will definitely inspire more than three ideas… and many more. In the course of a merry afternoon CASEing other people’s fabulous ideas, I eventually came up with one of my own and sat the little birdie on the tree, stamped sideways to look like a branch. Cute or what?

Actually, now that I think about it, I did see this idea somewhere else… on a video of the Stampin’ Up!® Convention in Australia. But the card design is my own at least. 

Saw lots of little birdies on a walk around Belper yesterday. Well, heard them mostly - and in fine voice they were, too. How did you spend the Bank Holiday?

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Revitalising a Versamark ink pad

I can’t be the only one, I’m sure. I get a lovely new item – it could be a handbag, journal, set of Big Shot cutting plates, Versamark pad – and think “this time, I’m going to keep it nice”. 

I have utopian visions of a clean and tidy handbag, a journal of neatly scribed important thoughts, one unscarred Big Shot cutting plate, and a pristine Versamark pad which remains the same colour as the day I took it out of its wrapper. 

And then life happens. A boiled sweet gets stuck to the handbag lining, I scribble a shopping list in my lovely new journal, both my plates turn into bananas with a roadmap of lines on them, and my Versamark ends up looking like…


It could be worse actually. I’m sure there used to be a black penguin stamped on it, but it must have been absorbed over time. A very long time. 

I ordered a new one – a demonstrator can never have too many Versamark pads – but thought I’d have a go at restoring this one. I had very little to lose, after all.  

I’d seen a tutorial on Pinterest which involved merely dabbing gently at the foam with a piece of kitchen roll (tissue) then re-inking but, no matter how hard I dabbed (and, in my frustration, I admit I got a little violent), my Versamark pad remained a delightful browny-orangey colour. With a weird purple line and two dots on it. I have NO idea where that came from. 

As by now I’d dabbed pretty much any remaining ink from the pad, I decided to go for broke… and washed it. I ran it under a warm tap and rinsed and rinsed until it ran clear and the pad began to look a little more like its old self. The weird line with two dots remains, but is a much paler shade. But no, I still don’t have any idea where it came from. 

Once the foam pad had dried thoroughly, I began the re-inking process. Versamark ink is very thick and gloopy so you do have to be patient. I scribbled lines of re-inker horizontally across the pad, as above, then worked it it in gently with my bone folder. Then I repeated it vertically, then diagonally... in the end I inked it FIVE times and I think I’ve cracked it. I used it today and it worked beautifully. 

Here it is. Not perfect, but considerably better-looking than when I started. 

So, if you don’t want to spend your Bank Holiday Monday sitting in a queue of traffic, why not stay at home and restore your Versamark pad instead? And, if you do, this is how I would recommend you do it. And then you can have fun in the process of turning it a weird colour again. 

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Caturday: Mr Winky's trip to the vet

It’s been a Big Week for Mr Winky. On Monday he had to have two teeth out; a minor op in the grand scheme of things but I still didn’t like to think of him having a general at the grand old age of 11. 

I didn’t even take him to the vet’s for his teeth but you know how things go once you’re in there...

He’s been overgrooming for a while, something we put down to stress, but no amount of Feliway has stopped it. Overgrooming can be caused by a million and one things but the vet suspected a skin issue, as he was producing a lot of dander and, obligingly, sneezed while we were there (I’d forgotten about the sneezing because it had eased off recently). 

She wanted to give him a steroid but couldn’t because of the potential infection in his gum, so that was that. All Monday I was anxious, desperate to get Mr W back home. So much so that I forgot to ask them if we could keep the teeth, for him to put under his pillow!

The good news is that the vet gave him the steroid after the op and the difference in him has been remarkable. 

You can’t tell from the photo but he’s a New Cat. No longer is he constantly bothering his fur, shaking his head or being ansty. Now he is chilled-out enough to concentrate on his favourite hobbies of sleeping and thinking about physics, the state of the economy and learning Esperanto (he’s a very clever animal). 

Unfortunately, the steroid’s powers only last for a week, so it’s back to the vet on Tuesday to discover our next move. He really won’t like that. 

Friday, 22 May 2015

I Think You're Great gift bag and card

I’m typing this at night, trying to ignore the irritated flapping of a moth trapped inside the lampshade. As somebody wiser than me once said, if they like the light so much, why don’t they come out in the day?

But we can’t always see what’s good for us - which is probably why it took me a good two years to learn to like Calypso Coral. And now, here it is, adorning a card alongside Hello Honey and Lost Lagoon. 

I confess that I didn’t make the card you see below.  My involvement was limited to fetching items from the cupboard for Kelly to use. I did decorate the bag, though. I even used the Stamp-a-ma-jig to line up the pattern on the tag!

The bag was an idea I picked up at Stampin’ Up!® training day last weekend. It was Shetland demonstrator Rhoda MacPherson who provided the inspiration; she suggested carrying business information inside a card in a bag similar to this so you can hand it to anybody you happen to strike up a conversation with, as soon as you manage to steer the conversation around to crafting, that is. 

I need to practise this more so, to challenge myself, this evening I made eight cards to go into eight bags, which I hope to hand out over the next few weeks. Wish me luck!

These polka dot bags are retired and sold out now so I was using them up, but there are plain ones in the new catalogue and, even more excitingly, some translucent bags with white polka dots. They’re on the list for 2nd June when the full catalogue goes live!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Stars Framelits teenage boy card

So… I definitely CASEd this from somewhere but I’ve been all over Pinterest and the entire internet, including my favourite blogs and can’t find it anywhere! If you recognise it, please let me know and I’ll give credit. 

It’s the “teenage boy” card we made at my no-longer-recent Awkward Cards workshop and, although I acknowledge that a teenager boy isn’t going to appreciate any card unless it has money in it, it was quite fun to make. 

The star was die-cut with Framelits, and then “hi” was cut from the centre using some Thinlits (yeah, yeah, I’ll look up the names of these products in a minute*). Underneath is a punched circle of retiring DSP with some retiring thick Baker’s Twine wrapped around it. I love the look of this technique but, for the life of me, I never seem to get it right. I think I’ve cracked it now though (AFTER I made this card, naturally) and it seems you make a loop of twine, then tape it down with some washi tape. Wish I’d thought of that. 

The rest of the card is just a series of simple elements… the only thing was that I didn’t have any black Candy Dots, so I coloured some of my least favourites (*cough cough* the orange ones) using a black Sharpie. 

There are lots of retiring products on this project, some of which have now sold out but can be substituted with current or new products. For instance, even if you don't want to get the bargain Label Card Thinlits (see below), the Mini Treat Bag Thinlits have a “for you” die which would be perfect in the centre of the star, and any brightly coloured DSP would work just as well under the vellum. You could substitute the Thick Baker's Twine with another colour - there are five new colours in the new catalogue - or simply Linen Thread.

*Label Card Thinlits - still in stock on Wednesday evening and down to £14.98!

The small print

This is my personal blog and my sole responsibility as an Independent Stampin' Up!® demonstrator. All images are © Stampin' Up!® All content including photographs, projects and text are © Helen Read, unless otherwise stated. Please feel free to copy my ideas for your personal use and inspiration - if you are a SU demonstrator you may use these ideas for your events but please give credit where it is due. Please do not use my ideas for monetary gain, competitions or publication. The images on this blog - including blog buttons - should not be copied and used elsewhere on the internet or on CDs.