On the cards…

On the cards…

It is hot, hot, hot here and that is not conducive to being crafty.  Although I feel the cold much more than the heat, even I don’t like being sweaty and uncomfortable, especially when I am trying to make cards out of papers I don’t like and cannot get inspired by.

My last pack of papers from Inspired Crafts contained bright florals, glittery chipboard and hot pink polka dot ribbon.  So NOT my thing.  The papers were from American Crafts’ “Garden Cafe” range and although I know people far cleverer than me would have been able to work on some beautiful projects using these papers, I just couldn’t get into them at all.  I guess I just prefer simpler designs, smaller patterns and more subdued tones.  Or I’m just making excuses…maybe I am just rubbish at crafts and should take up sudoku or something 😦

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Anyway, I struggled through the heat and lack of inspiration and managed to make three cards, none of which I am particularly happy with, that use the papers provided.  I couldn’t work with the polka dot ribbon.  I tried and tried but it didn’t go with anything so I left it out.  The glittery bits of chipboard?  Yeah, they kinda got left behind too.  I’m still determined to make something with them if it kills me.

So, I made these cards.

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They are ugly and uninspired but at least they’re done.  I am sharing my crappy cards with you to make you feel better the next time you are having a bad day, craft-wise.  We all have them (I tell myself this) and I guess I will do better next time.  Actually, there won’t be a next time, in terms of my Design Team requirements as this is my last pack from them (new DT members will be chosen soon and I decided I needed to get back into my own stuff this year and improve on my skills rather than showcasing my lack of them!) and I can’t say I’m not relieved.  It was great to be challenged and forced to use products and papers outside my own tastes and preferences, but I really missed being able to focus on my own projects and not have a deadline etc.  So I’m a free agent again, able to make crappy cards and dodgy designs that I don’t have to show to anyone if I don’t want to!  Except for you guys of course!

PS……..

Just tried a last-ditch effort at making another card using the Garden Cafe papers.  I was aware of the fact that I hadn’t utilised the floral sides of the papers and thought I had better give that a go before handing in what I’d made.  So here it is.  The final card made with American Crafts’ “Garden Cafe” range.  Now I can relax and never look at these papers ever again!

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PPS Apologies to American Crafts.  There is nothing wrong with your papers – they just don’t speak to me, personally.  My limited creative abilities are obviously not up to the more flamboyant designs in your range.  😦

PPPS I actually made one more card using the polka dot ribbon and the glittery chipboards.  I forgot to take a photo though – d’oh!  I used some jump-rings to join the larger chipboard flower to the smaller one, accented them with a button each and then “hung” them from the ribbon like an arty pendant.  Wish I’d taken a photo ’cause it didn’t look so bad… I was determined to use those supplies though!  I handed all my finished items in to the shop and ran away ha ha.  Actually, I stopped for a minute to look around the shop and see all my work displayed.  Didn’t look half bad y’know?  I’d been too scared for the last 6 months to actually go and look at my own work up against other people’s?  Isn’t that silly?  I’m a dufus!  Maybe I should re-name this blog “The Crafty Dufus”.  What do you think?  🙂

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Paper Flag Wreath

Paper Flag Wreath

With not much time to do any crafting at all this last fortnight and, also, having little motivation to do anything other than sleep and be still and sad by myself, I was struggling to get anything else finished for a design team project.  I was coming up blank as far as ideas go and I didn’t want to just hand in another batch of cards.  So, one day at work, during an extremely dull desk shift, I explored the various craft blogs available on the ‘net for inspiration.  I struck gold with One Pretty Thing.  If you haven’t checked it out before, do yourself a favour and have a look.  It lists hundreds of DIY craft tutorials from lots of different craft sites and blogs.  Very easy to navigate through and I found sooooo many things I wanna make when I have some free time.

I came across a beautiful Christmas wreath decorated with paper “flags” at The Hybrid Chick.  I decided that was just the inspiration I needed to use up the papers I had left from my latest design team pack and to make something pretty and easy to make.  I won’t give the steps in detail here as I would encourage you to go to the blogs mentioned but, basically, it’s just a case of cutting out lots of little flags with a “v” shaped end and gluing them to a wreath.  I also distressed the edges with a bit of ink and also rubbed some glitter glue over the completed piece.  I don’t know why I am using glitter a lot all of a sudden – normally I can’t stand it…but I’m only applying little amounts and it is coming up to Christmas after all…  I was quite pleased with the finished project – at least I have something else to hand in now.

 

And where did I find my little wreath to start with?  Aha!  Well, yet another lovely blog gave me the directions for making my own paper wreath!  Yes, indeedy, I made my own little paper wreath with simple instructions from Michele Made Me.  I had a strip of brown paper, wetted it, folded in the raw edges and then twisted the paper carefully, wrapping it around a cup as I went and then folding the ends under.  Then I microwaved it for two minutes on high and voila! a lovely little wreath that is surprisingly strong and sturdy for this kind of craft.  I’m always so happy when something works out, first go.  Please go to Michele’s site for full instructions.

So I think I’m done for this month’s design team requirements.  I’ve been so busy with helping Mum sort out the house ready for moving and I’ve had a stay in hospital myself (nothing terrible but still took up valuable time!) and of course there’s pesky work.  So I haven’t done a lot of crafting but at least I’ve done something.  My craft room once again looks like something exploded in there but I’ll try and get that tidied up for the weekend.

Hope your weekend is happy and relaxing (or exciting and fast-paced if you prefer it that way!)  Please do visit the blogs/sites mentioned – they’re pretty cool 🙂

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…in November

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…in November

I am still terribly sad about my little Roderick but I have been reading a book called “The Loss of a Pet” by Wallace Sife and it has helped a lot.  I think just knowing that the things I’m feeling are normal and that other people have experienced the same kind of grief made it easier for me to process my emotions and not “get over it” exactly, but begin to heal a little bit and stop moping about.  I would recommend the book if you’re going through a similar situation and need a little help in dealing with it.

The week of his passing was horrible to say the least.  Not only did I lose him, but my Mother-in-law lost a dear friend, my brother-in-law’s dogs were bitten by a snake and had to have emergency treatment, and a close friend of mine was left by her husband.  I figure the stars were really out of whack that week.

I have been trying to keep busy and not “think” about things.  I’ve done a lot of crying.  But I’ve also had to keep up with my usual responsibilities and go to work, make things for the design team and help my Mum with packing and sorting out the house (we finally found her a new house – yay!).  While my creative brain was not working to full capacity, I struggled to make anything awe-inspiring for the shop as part of my design team responsibilities.  The pack I was given included the Melissa Frances Christmas range and I thought I would be able to make a few things easily.  But with deceased guinea pigs on the brain and a painful neck brought on by stress, I only managed a few cards.  I’m hoping inspiration will strike me before I have to hand in my finished items but it’s not looking good …. Here’s what I have made so far:

Nothing amazing but at least it’s something.  I really struggled with that red and white striped chevron paper – it made me go cross-eyed just looking at it.

Today I had to go into the city and buy hubby some birthday presents.  He’s into all the dungeons and dragons/board game/role playing stuff.  He doesn’t dress up like a wizard or anything but he does have regular “games days” with some friends.  So I had to venture into unfamiliar terrain today – ie comic book stores and a fantasy/sci fi gaming store.  Luckily he had given me a list so I knew what to look for.  Otherwise I may have bought him, well, God knows what, really

Whilst in town I window shopped in all the stores, looking at all the lovely Christmas  decorations and supplies.  I hate that they do it so early (this stuff has been up since October – ugh!) but still, I like to look.  And dream that one day I will have a proper house with a proper Christmas tree and lots of lovely things to put on it.  I do balk at some of the prices of things though.  I tend to walk around thinking “Pfft!  I could make that for less!”  which is probably true but the end result would most likely look pretty crappy and would cost me more in time and hair-pulling as I tried to figure out how to actually make things myself.  Myers always has a beautiful display of decorations and trims.  I took photos of a few things:

Love these dress forms.  Actually, I love anything related to dress forms.  I have a papier mache one at home waiting to be decorated.  Might have to try…

This table centrepiece was gorgeous (with a price tag to match) but you could make it with a bit of patience and a stack of little mirrors!

Really liked these wooden pears and apples.  So rustic and shabby!

This little guy made me smile.  He looks so cosy in his wooly scarf.

A cute and simple idea for a different kind of Advent calendar. Even I could probably manage this one.

These button picks were really nice.  They also had button garlands which would look great strung around a festive room.  I think I just like anything with buttons…

These wooden and felt layered decorations would be easy enough to replicate at home.  Might have to rummage around in my fabric drawer for some felt scraps…

I liked these simple cone Christmas trees but didn’t like their price.  I like the folksy details and simplicity.  Another one I might have to try.

So lots to look at and distract me from sadness today.  I can’t believe Christmas is already almost upon us and I am not even remotely organised this year.  Better stop window shopping and do some actual shopping soon…gee, what a shame!  Are you ready for the festive season (if you celebrate it)?  Do you have an favourite traditions or decorations that you have to have every year?  Let  me know!

A Geisha and a Nutcracker…

A Geisha and a Nutcracker…

So, I am working on lots of things for this month’s Design Team requirements.  I have been able to make a few cards – the Simple Stories paper and stickers are great to use, especially on those days you’re not feeling particularly inspired and just want to make something easy.  I don’t generally use stickers on my cards – I don’t like the one-dimensional look of them.  They’re so flat and look like stickers, if you know what I mean.  So for these projects I stuck them on to card and painstakingly cut them out again so I could use padded tape on the back of them and give them more “oomph” and definition.  I like the little snowman – he’s kinda cute.  The “Handmade Holidays” sticker sheet is really good value – it has loads on it and you could make a bundle of cards with it (and just a couple of sheets of co-ordinating cardstock or papers). I’m still working on some more cards from those papers so stay tuned…

I’m also using a couple of pieces from the Graphic 45 “Birdsong” range.  So pretty!   All those cherry blossoms and gorgeous vintage-y Japanese ladies.

I attempted to make an ornate picture frame with a geisha hair pin as decoration.  The frame was an ugly little plastic IKEA one I had stored away.  It came with it’s own little stand too.  I spray painted them both with a high gloss enamel (black) and they came up pretty nice. I also rubbed a little bit of red metallic buffing creme to the edges and details, just to add a bit of contrast and definition.

I agonised over the hair pin – I did have one that a friend brought me back from Japan but I didn’t want to glue that on, I wanted to make my own.  So I tried a few different things – chopsticks, skewers, nylon wire and string.  In the end I used a cut-down chopstick that I painted a rich crimson colour, added a bead to the end and wound some string (painted black) around it and added some other black and red beads for the “dangly bit”.  It didn’t turn out exactly as I wanted…but hopefully it gives people some ideas (that they can then execute better than I have!).  Anyway, it makes a change from cards and it shows a different way of using scrapbooking paper.

Now I am starting another project using the Graphic 45’s “Nutcracker Sweet” range – lots of purple and green and sugar plum fairies!  But before I attempt anything with those lovely papers, I had better clear up my mess, rediscover my table and plan what I am going to do.  Or I could just push everything to one side and work in a little tiny corner of the table like I usually do…that sounds more like me!