• Dearly Beloved

    Wednesday, 30 July, 2014

    Whenever I have been naughty, my wife always starts by saying "You know what you've done don't you?" to which I almost always reply " What now my beloved?" in the vain hope that one little endearment will help to calm the waters.

    I'm not that naughty really, just minor day-to-day irritants like forgetting to fill the water filter jug or forgetting to pick up milk or..... it's usually forgetting something or other!..... MEN!!!

     This week I'm going to make her birthday card (21 again!) and I thought I would use some of the new dies/folders from Lori Whitlock and Prima listed below.

    I started by cutting a 10 x 12 cm rectangle of ivory card and die-cutting a flourish from the same card. I used the flourish as a template and traced around the edge on the base of the rectangle with a pencil before trimming around the pencil line and rounding off the upper corners with a suitable punch.

    I embossed the floral pattern onto the card and gently inked over the embossed image using the Weathered Wood Distress Ink pad applied with a blending tool followed by the Shabby Shutters ink pad. I also applied a little Mustard Seed ink which is a very strong yellow so use with caution, it adds a little freshness where needed. I used the same colours on the flourish.
     Remember the beginning of the blog? well this is where the 'Beloved' part comes in. I measured the tab die from the Ornate Labels set and created the word 'Beloved' on my PC before printing onto ivory card. Next I cropped the word with the die and die-cut the ornate label from gold card which I then distressed with a sanding pad. I also cut the label background onto which I matted the ornate label followed by the die-cut phrase. This is a seriously useful set of dies and I urge you to check them out. 
    For the finishing touch I wanted to add a pretty little flower and who better to design such a set of dies but Prima. This is one of five different flowers in the same set and they are a die-cut essential in my opinion. I inked the edges of the petals using the same inks as before and set about applying a little texture and dimension to the petals using my trusty tool kit by Susan Tierney-Cockburn. I added a Crystal to the centre as the finishing touch and......

    .....Here's the finished card.

    I had so much fun I decided to make another one using the same elements but changing the colours slightly. I also used a different ornate label and flower, both from the same sets though.

    And here they are together, now all I've got to do is choose which one I think she will like..... and then give her the other one as I'm bound to get it wrong!!!

  • No Rust for the wicked!

    Wednesday, 23 July, 2014

    If I am wicked then my worst crime is the use of terrible puns in the title of my blogs as I'm sure you will all agree?

    A little while back I gave a beautiful die cut 1950's car the 'rusty' treatment and I said at the time that I will use it at some point in the future. I have scrapped the car idea but I want to use the rust technique which was featured in Tim Holtz' Creative Chemistry 102 online classes...Hey! if your gonna steal, steal from the best I say!!! 

    Seriously though, follow the link and sign up, it's jam packed with inspirational ideas showing how to get the best out of all your favourite inks, stains and acrylics and there's plenty of Sizzix inspiration to feast your eyes on too.

    The dies I'm using this week are:

    As last week, it's another mash-up of designs from different collections which work particularly well together. This week I am again using dies from Prima and Lori Whitlock with one of my old favourites namely the big ol' tag die from Tim Holtz.

    I started by die-cutting four cogs two heart locks (for layering), a key (which didn't make the final project) and a delicious butterfly from ivory card. Next I lightly applied some embossing ink before sprinkling with Vintage Photo Distress Embossing Powder which is great for adding a gritty texture and works in a different way to conventional embossing powders in that it gives random coverage, ideal for distress applications.

    I fixed the powder with a heat tool and inked the die-cuts with a combination of Distress inks to achieve the rusty iron look. Next I die-cut the beautiful flourish from ivory card and gave it the same rusty treatment.
    I applied a rectangle of patterned paper (My Mind's Eye Nostalgia Collection) to a piece of mount board before die-cutting the tag before selectively inking around the perimeter. Next I stamped onto the top right-hand edge using various Distress inks and my trusty Dear Lizzy Lucky Charm rotary phrase stamp before stamping onto ivory card, trimming to size and distressing the edges. Finally, I attached the phrase to the tag using tiny staples.

    Now all I need to do is attach the cogs and flourish to the tag, I have used screw head brads in the centre of some of the cogs. I attached the layered padlock using a couple of tiny jump rings and then I lightly inked the butterfly before curling back the wings and dousing with Clear Rock Candy Distress Glitter followed by a little strategically placed crushed glass glitter around the edges, I had to add a bit of bling with all that rust, and I love the contrast it gives.

    And that, as they that! except for a bit of Crinkle Ribbon dyed to match the rust colours for a finishing touch. I love the flourish so next week I'm going to put it to good use on my wife's birthday card. 

  • Owl Mash Up!!

    Wednesday, 16 July, 2014

    A'mash up' started as a musical term which describes the blending of two songs very often in very different styles/genres, think ABBA and Black Sabbath...... you get the idea!

    This month we are releasing three new collections from Tim Holtz, Prima and Lori Whitlock. I love them all and I want to share as much as I can but time is against us my friends, so I got thinking and.......

    Here is a gift box made using the Bigz XL owl bag. It's a really lovely die perfect for party favours and the like and I'm sure you will be seeing it in many magazine projects and in many different colour combinations and materials.

    This is a fabulous and super-useful die and as I said above, you will see oodles of pretty owl boxes so I wanted to shake it up a bit and throw in a die from the Prima (Flora Grande) collection. When I say die I am actually referring to a set of dies (nine to be exact) named Rondeaux which are basically, gears with hearts between the spokes in various sizes (I LOVE!!!!!).

    I also want to use only one colour, (What!!!) and that colour is black, (Gasp!!!) so I will need a little help from my silver gilding wax (Phew!!!)

    I started by die-cutting the four parts to make up the main body of the box from graphite sparkle which is a black heavy weight card with holes drilled through it and is made by Inspire Me Papers, check out the link above. Next, I set about putting the box together which is surprisingly simple as these things can often be quite fiddly! Once it was ready I gently rubbed the edge using the gilding wax, the one I used is called Treasure Pewter you can use a soft cloth but I prefer to use my finger tips which gives you more control but mainly because it smells like boot polish Mmmmmm! 

    I Die-cut all the elements to finish the owl and embossed the main body using the Sweet Dots folder from the new Lori Whitlock collection. Next I strategically applied the wax to all the die-cuts except the eyes. and gently curled the three rows of feathers before assembling the owl.

    There was still one bit missing, this is where the gears come in. I die-cut two sets to create the eyes and gave them the pewter treatment.

    And here is the finished 'Steampunk' owl. For the finishing touches I used screw head brads in the centre of the eyes and mounted both sets of gears with 3D foam pads. I embossed the owls nose using the folder from the new Big Shot starter kit, don't worry if you don't have it there are plenty that will do the job just as well.

    Just a reminder, if you want to see a little more of the Prima dies I featured as a guest designer on their blog last week and here is the link. the image below is one of two projects featured.

  • in-flight entertainment

    Wednesday, 9 July, 2014

    Tiny, huge, plain, intricate?.... it doesn't really matter when we are talking about butterflies. They are such a versatile shape and on many occasions provide the perfect finishing touch to lots of papercraft projects.

    Today, I am proud to introduce a new die/embossing folder combo from that creative bottomless pit that is Mr Tim Holtz. I am sure that this will become a huge favourite for many of you as it is for me. I had the privilege to work with this die last December in preparation for our impending trade shows and the resulting projects drew quite a crowd. I have had to wait until now to finally use it again, Hurrah!!!

    The sizzix products I'm going to be using today are:

    I also used some of my favourite Distress Inks namely Mustard Seed, Wild Honey and Walnut Stain (if I added Crushed Olive, another favourite of mine, they would make a great salad dressing!)

    I started with an A6 sized Base card made from stiff ivory card stock and applied the inks with a foam applicator starting from the top down from the light colour (Mustard Seed) to the dark (Walnut Stain). I stood the card up and gently spritzed the top of the card with water allowing it to run down before drying with my heat tool.

    I die-cut a strip of paper (thin copier paper is fine) just long enough for my card using the confetti die, this is another die which will prove a useful tool whether as a stencil or for the tiny circles which are so useful. Here I'm using it as a stencil through which to create the pattern using my inks.

    I die-cut the butterfly from the same ivory card that I used before and placed the butterfly into the Texture Fades embossing folder which accompanies the Bigz die. As you can see from the image on the right, the detail is superb, but the magic really starts to happen when I start to apply the inks....

     I started with the Mustard Seed (yellow) ink before inking the centre using good ol' Walnut Stain (dark brown). Next, I applied Wild Honey (orange) blending from the tips of the wings inward before adding a little depth around the edges with the Walnut Stain again. If you loved the Block Talk alphabet die then you will love the lowercase version which is a perfect companion. I love the fact that it's a Bigz die which means Heavy weight materials like mount board, leather, textiles, balsa wood etc. can be cut with no fuss or bother whatsoever. I used the die to cut the word 'hello' from mount board covered with a sheet of the ivory card...easy-peasy!

     And here is the finished card, I gently curled the butterflies wings to add a little dimension and sprayed it with a dusting of silver Spray and Sparkle from Crafter's Companion which gives it a light gloss. I always feel that butterflies should be breaking free of a card/layout, they should give the impression that they have just stopped by for a fleeting moment and will be off the minute your back is turned.... or is it just me?

    Before I forget, Check out the Prima Blog this week where I am featured with a couple of cards to celebrate the launch of the new range of Sizzix dies designed in conjunction with Prima Marketing Inc. Here is a sneak preview below.

  • Hexagon Fun!

    Wednesday, 2 July, 2014

    Hexagons are such a great design feature in the card maker's arsenal, they're like a circle designed by an engineer. I love their versatility and they are an essential for modern paper crafting styles.Having said all that I didn't know that they could be fun too!

    I was looking through some old dies when I came across a decorative strip die called Flower, Folded which is basically a collection of perforated circles which when put together form a really cool 3D flower. I started to wonder what you could do with other shapes to create a similar effect when that little light bulb appeared above my head (maybe that's what caused my bald spot!!!)

    It was at this point I grabbed my hexagon Framelits set and the rest as they say is history.

    I started by die-cutting six identical hexagons from paper with a different pattern on either side (My Minds Eye - So Sophie range) I then used a tool to crease each one as shown in the diagram below. Once I had all six I placed them carefully onto a rectangle of adhesive tape sheet.

    Once they were all stuck down I placed a pearl brad through the centre and matted them onto two further hexagons in contrasting shades of patterned card. Next, I folded a rectangle of stiff ivory card stock in half and placed my large hexagon die overhanging the folded edge (as indicated by the white arrow), this forms the hinge as the die cuts through both layers.

    Finally I attached the matted layers to the hinged base card, I think the finished card is pretty cute!

    I couldn't stop at one card so I thought I'd try a different colours, I know it's a bit early for Christmas cards but it made such a wicked snowflake. This time I folded the flaps closed and strategically applied some Pinflair Ice Diamond together with a pearl charm in the centre.

    I was about to pack my tools away when I thought 'what would it be like using say... Framelits hearts' well here's the answer.I cut six hearts as before and used a set square as a guide to add the creases, this end of the set square has an angle of 45 degrees which was perfect as luck would have it.

    And here is the finished card. I'm sure that there is more mileage in this technique but I have to move onto more pressing matters. If you can think of any variations on this theme I would love to hear them.

  • Tidy!

    Wednesday, 25 June, 2014

    Tidy is not a word that would necessarily spring to mind when describing my work area when I'm busy crafting. I'm sure that this is true of many of you? In my defence I do clean up between projects but I'm not too bothered by clutter.

    If like me, you live in Wales then this word takes on a different meaning, Tidy could be transposed for any number of words, all of which are positive like excellent, brilliant, wicked etc.

    My good friend and former band mate  Andrew 'Bone' Jones, an excellent fellow and Tidy guitar player as well was blessed with a little girl last Tuesday by the name of Isabella Eira (a welsh name meaning 'snow') So many congrats to Bone and Julia.

    Bone told me the happy news via text, it read as one might expect but ended with the word tidy! which is  his favourite word by far, not that he has a limited vocabulary, although now you mention it.......

    I wanted to mark the occasion with a card, and the great thing about being a crafter is that you can offer something a little bit special and bespoke. I had a great idea but to make it work I had to reach for my Framelits Circles dies and my Scalloped Squares, The rest, as they say was easy. There are two sets of Framelits circles dies and even though you can create the project using just those in the link above I have lumped them all together in one folder.

    I Started by selecting my papers and dies before die-cutting three different circles, two pale yellow and the smallest from Spotty pink paper. Next I placed a smaller circle against the base of the largest circle and another die roughly in the centre of the smaller yellow circle. I also trimmed away part of the spotty circle until I have the collection of shapes in the far right hand picture.

    I cut the yellow 'ring' in half and fashioned one end into a chevron with my craft knife forming the end of the trunk before mounting them all together to form my elephant. Next I cut a square of ivory card and added a faux stitch effect around the perimeter with a pattern makers wheel. I matted the square onto a die-cut pink scalloped square before mounting the elephant using 3D foam pads.

    Finally, I printed the word tidy onto white card and carefully trimmed around it with a craft knife forming a speech bubble.

    I printed the words onto a rectangle of kraft card as well as the seal at the top (this is from a dingbats font called 'old seals' free to download from


  • Out of the Shadows!

    Wednesday, 18 June, 2014

    ShadowPress is here!!...For those of amongst you who have no idea what I'm talking about let me enlighten you!

    ShadowPress is the name of a new style of debossing folder which leaves the impression of the shadow of the letters rather than the letters themselves, confused?

    It's so hard to describe the concept; when it was explained to me my eyes glazed over in incomprehension too! They say 'A picture is worth a thousand words' so with that in mind let us cut to the chase and show you what ShadowPress can do!!

    The folders are the work of MrTim Holtz known for his innovative work in many crafting fields including die cutting and embossing. I am using the following folders and dies to create this weeks blog (click on the product to follow the link):

    I have restricted myself to ivory and black card for this project and I am also using one of my favourite products which is Treasure Pewter gilding wax. I folded an A5 piece of ivory card in half to form my base card together with a 21 x 9 cm rectangle of black card. I debossed then word 'hello' onto the front of the black card with my folder.... It's all starting to make sense now!!!

    I tore the base from the black card below the debossed word and started to gently rub the Treasure Pewter over the word with my finger tip gradually building up the silver patina. Its important not to apply too much and work in delicate circles. Once satisfied, I wrapped the black card around the base card. We can see how the debossed image is highlighted by the wax, it's a wicked effect and works equally well with acrylics, pastels etc.

    Next I Die-cut a line of birds from stiff black card and trimmed away the birds that I wanted to use with a craft knife before applying the gilding wax as before.

    Here's the finished card. I attached the birds with 3D foam pads and added a few pewter coloured 2mm adhesive pearl gems.

    I couldn't stop at one card so I returned to my old friend the Butterfly Frenzy decorative strip which we saw a few months back, I created the card in the same way but to get added dimension the the butterflies I gently curled the wing tips and folded them in the centre before applying to the card with a glue gun.

    I think these cards are quite modern and stylish as well as delivering maximum impact in return for minimum effort. I actually quite like to spend hours labouring over a project but sometimes we just want something quick and easy!

    Next week I'm going to return to my old friends the Framelits Circles...Can't wait!

  • Vintage Auto

    Wednesday, 11 June, 2014

    Last week we took a look at some of the fab new 1950's dies designed by Jen Long and I mentioned the car die set which I am very fond of so I thought I would share it with you today.

    Father's Day is just around the corner here in the UK so if you want a bit of inspiration check out this link which will take you to 6 project sheets and oodles of FREE downloadable papers to create retro style 1950's style cards. We love that word so I'll write it again....FREE!

    Here are the dies I used today:

    I went for a typical 1950's colour palette and rather than make it easy for myself I decided to try to create a two tone style car. I started by cutting all the different elements including the headlights, hub caps, Bumper ( I should say fender really!) etc.

    I trimmed away the parts of the blue car I didn't need along with the windscreen and steering wheel of the cream car. Next, I attached the separate sections of the blue car to the cream car before adding the wheels and hub caps.

    After adding the bumper and headlights I attached the steering wheel and soft top as well as the silver wind screen surround.
    Here is  a card made following most of the steps above but I have added a few twists like the white wall tires and I have substituted black for grey to give a softer effect. I also used Distress inks sparingly to add a little dimensional depth as well as a few white highlights with a gel pen.

    I used a couple of the circled dies to create a silver frame with the check paper in the centre before die cutting the letters from silver card. I cut all the asymmetric shapes by hand before mounting everything onto the base card.

    Well that, as they say is that! but I did have one tiny idea which I want to share.

    I wanted to create the same car but have it look like a rusty old banger, I die-cut all the bits as above and roughly applied Walnut Stain Distress Ink around the edges before assembling the car.

    I pressed down onto the die-cut car using an embossing ink pad before applying the Vintage Photo Distress embossing powder and shaking off the excess prior to setting it with a heat tool.

    After this I went to work with my Distress inks starting with yellow and orange tones before introducing a little blue. The results were quite effective and it will probably find it's way onto a project at some point in the future.

  • Hey Daddy-o!

    Wednesday, 4 June, 2014

    If you said 'Hey Daddy-o!' to a kid today you would get the strangest look, If however you said it in 1956 then you would be a real cool cat!

    I love everything about 1950's Americana, the music, cars, guitars and especially the designs and colours that they favoured back then. This week I want to take a look at some new dies released just in time for Father's Day, not that they were designed specifically for that but they are perfect for the man in your life none the less.

    If you want to create some 1950's themed Father's Day cards we have some worksheets and free downloadable papers on the website, here is a link

    There are four die sets in the range designed by a very talented young lady by the name of Jen Long and I have listed them below so you can click on the link and check them out. There is so much going on in each set which means that they represent great value for money too.

    As I mentioned I wanted to create something with a Father's day theme and stick to a limited 50's style colour palette, The juke box is so well thought out as a die that's it hard to mess up (even me!). so I started by cutting all the bits out ready to assemble.

    I have shown the steps below in constructing the juke box from start to finish, the trims were cut from metallic gold card.

    Here is the finished card, as you can see I used the Boardwalk Decorative Strip alphabet by Tim Holtz and one of the cute border dies from the Thinlits Borders Set by Stephanie Barnard.
    I die cut the letters and used Distress Inks to add a gentle tint to their base before mounting onto an asymmetric rectangle of red card before rounding off the corners with a punch. As well as this fab juke box you also get an LP record die and a music notation die (see image above). A perfect set for the music lover in your family.

    Next up, I wanted to use the Radio from Vintage Car and Radio set, and if you love this cute little radio you'll flip when you see the car (Maybe next week?). I die cut the radio from blue and cream card and all the other bits from silver metallic card before mounting them all together as shown. The dies are so well designed, I can't tell you how much fun they were to use.

    Next, I die cut the 'Rock 'n Roll' phrase from cream card and inked the base to add a little contrast before mounting onto a die-cut oval ( Oval Framelits set), next I added a larger red oval and mounted it all onto an asymmetric orange strip.

    I die-cut the letters to spell out 'DAD' and inked them as before and attached them to a rectangle of red card before rounding off the corners. I attached this to a similar blue rectangle and die-cut an curved arrow from silver card using the Bigz Artful Arrows die by Tim Holtz, a die which has no fewer than 12 different arrows to choose from.

    Here's the finished card, you can see I've also added another arrow, some tiny adhesive pearls and some check card thrown in for good measure. I might make a few more next week...Too much fun!!!

  • Getting Shirty (part 2)

    Wednesday, 28 May, 2014

    Fathers day is just over two weeks away here in the UK and last week I featured a card with a men's shirt as the central motif and this week I want to show you a couple more variations on the same theme.

    The dies I am using are all decorative strips designed by none other than Mr Tim Holtz and they are Bow/Tied and Vintage Lace one of my favourite and most used dies.

    I started with a template which has the same measurements as in the previous blog with the exception of the creases in the top corners to create the wing collars

    For this shirt I wanted a slightly more distressed look or tattered elegance as opposed to the crisp black and white of the last blog post. I was thinking more 1970's prom shirt so I started by gently inking around the edges of a rectangle of ivory card before scrunching the card after which I went over the creases and around the edges with an ink applicator to give added contrast.

    I followed the measurements on the templates to cut and crease the collars before folding them in and securing them at the base of the collar with a tiny blob of hot glue. Next, I folded over the wing collars along the crease lines before cutting and scrunching two 5 x 15 cm strips of ivory card.

    I die-cut the card strips using my Tattered Lace Decorative Strip die and chose the pieces I wanted to use before inking as before, concentrating on the edges and the creases. Once I had my lace ready I drew a pencil line down the centre of the shirt as a guide before mounting the lace strips using strong, narrow double-sided tape from the good folks at Stix2. Next, I cut a 15 mm wide strip of ivory card and used my pattern makers wheel to add rows of faux stitching along each edge.

    I scrunched and inked the strip as before and applied it down the centre of the shirt. Next, I die-cut the bow tie from ivory card and coloured it with blue, green and purple Distress Inks on both sides before gently spritzing to blend the colours a little and splattering with water before drying with a heat tool to achieve a mottled effect.

    I assembled the bow, added a few adhesive pearls down the centre in place of buttons and mounted onto a corrugated base card measuring 11 x 15 cm.

    The word 'Geek' is an insult used to deride anyone of a bookish nature or with an seemingly unhealthy interest in their chosen hobby, which makes me a guitar geek I suppose! And who amongst you shares my burning passion for dies, embossing, paper, card, inks, acrylics, stamps etc..... That's right, we all have to feed our inner geek!

    Lately, the word has been been adopted as a desirable epithet emblazoned across t/shirts, bags etc. Geek chic is all the rage and has given rise to Hipster culture which is also seeping down into the world of crafts in the form of beards, moustaches and big square glasses etc. (you can probably guess where the rest of this blog is going?)

    I started by following the measurements of the template in last weeks blog to cut a 10 x 15 cm rectangle of check/plaid double sided card alongside a 2 cm wide strip before using my pattern makers wheel around the perimeter of both to leave rows of tiny holes which I joined with a fine black marker pen to give the impression of a stitched seam. Next, I used an ink applicator (Weathered Wood Distress Ink) around the edge to add a little definition.

    I attached the strip down the centre and turned back the collars, securing at the top with a little hot glue before die-cutting and assembling an orange bow tie, I used the Inks to give the edge a little definition too.
    I added a few mismatched buttons down the central strip (very geeky!!) and created the name badge using my PC before rounding off the corners and attaching to the shirt with a 3D foam pad. Finally, I mounted the shirt onto a brown base card measuring 11 x 15 cm.

    I really had fun making these cards, I hope yo like them? Next week we will be looking at some fab 1950's themed dies which are perfect for Father's day or any masculine themed card, Can't wait!

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