• Simplicity...

    Wednesday, 27 May, 2015



    .... is Beauty! That's what is says on the rubber stamp and who am I to argue?

    Although we love to marvel at incredibly intricate works craftsmanship, nothing quite compares to a simple artistic statement.

    At times I love to listen to a fabulous symphony orchestra yet nothing quite compares to a simple 12 bar rock and roll tune bashed out by young musicians on cheap instruments.

    I adore the complex flavours of a great curry with it's careful blend of herbs and spices creating a fireworks display on your taste buds but you can't beat fresh bread and olives?

    I have made many large ornate projects for trade shows and magazines, most of them have been very well received but it's the still simple things that excite me.

    Today I'm going back to the Thinlits Die Set 15PK w/Quiling Tool- Tiny Tattered Florals by Tim Holtz which we used last week, this time I'm using just ivory and green card and letting the dies do the talking.

    I set out by die-cutting about 30 separate leaves before curling them on a foam mat using a large ball end stylus. This softens the card and adds those lovely little creases around the edges. Next, I creased each one down the centre. 
    I die-cut each of the three spiral rose dies three times each from ivory card. To see how the flowers come together you will have to skip back to last weeks blog.



    I cut an 11 x 13 cm rectangle of the same ivory card that I used to cut the flowers and stamped my sentiment across the base in grey ink using the New Day Stamp Set from the Precious Remembrance Shop before marking a circle in pencil using a circle Framelits die, you can use a compass if you don't have one!

    I attached the leaves individually following the circle while trying not to be too precise. Next, I distressed the edges of the card with the blade of my scissors and added a faux stitched effect around the perimeter using a pattern makers wheel.


    Once the flowers where all assembled, I attached them one at a time using my glue gun.

    All that was left was to attach the rectangle to a  12 x 14 cm base card. It's tough to resist the temptation to add a few adhesive pearls or a little Distress Glitter but I managed somehow!




  • "What's in a name....

    Wednesday, 20 May, 2015



    ....That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" 

    One of Shakespeare's most quotable lines from Romeo and Juliet. Lets hope this blog post ends better than the aforementioned play?

    In case you haven't guessed we are working with roses this week, paper roses that is. I first used this Thinlits die set back in December and I am sure that it is going to be a huge success because it's such stunning value for money.

    The set comprises of 15 separate dies, six leaves and nine spiral flowers three of which are the roses I have used today. The set is called Thinlits set 15pk w/Quilling tool - Tiny Tattered Florals and is the brainchild of Tim Holtz. I didn't have access to the quilling tool at the time of writing this blog which is a shame because it makes things a whole lot easier; if you want to see the set together with the tool, follow the link above. Although spiral flower dies are nothing new the style and scale is perfect for smaller more intricate detail so beloved of mixed media and collage fans.

    There are three sizes of rose in total and I die-cut a couple of each from medium weight white card. To turn the flat spiral flower into a beautiful miniature rose couldn't be simpler. First grip the end with your tweezers (Quilling tool is preferable) and start to twist in a clockwise direction until you arrive at the centre. At this point, you can allow the rose to relax making it as tight or as loose as you prefer. I like to use a hot glue gun to secure the flower as it is both quick and permanent. Once secure you can then use your tweezers to curl back some of the individual petals to create a more realistic bloom.



    Crease each leaf down the centre and pinch in the centre as shown below to add realistic detail and dimension before attaching a couple to the base of each assembled rose. For the next stage, I wanted the card to be less absorbent so I painted each assembled rose with white gesso which dried in no time at all. To add a little vintage colour, I pressed my Broken China Distress Ink pad onto my craft sheet and gently spritzed with clean water to thin the pigment down before brushing it onto each flower allowing the colour to pool in places. this gives the flowers a shabby chic appearance.



    To create the background, I started by applying Broken China and Shabby Shutters Distress Ink to the white base card using a sponge applicator.


    Next, I applied clean water using a mister allowing the water to run down the front of the card as shown below.


    Next I used a combination of stamps from the Tim Holtz Stampers Anonymous range, the grey splats which you see are actually created using a rubber stamp!


    Finally, I used a Dear Lizzy roller stamp to add the multiple phrases.......


     ...... Before attaching the roses to the face of the card with a glue gun, 

    I'm sure that if Romeo had given his fair Juliet a card like this one, the story would have had a very different outcome? If only the bard had access to a Sizzix Big Shot! I guess we'll never know?



  • Tribal inspiration

    Wednesday, 13 May, 2015



    I have been looking forward to using the dies from the new Tribal range since I first used them in December to prepare for our upcoming trade shows. Tribal textiles and designs are all over the high street as we speak and this range is perfect for both paper crafters and textile artists with the inclusion of so many gorgeous Sizzix Bigz dies.

    The dies are all designed by my good friend Debi Potter who has a wonderful eye for the next trend in die cutting.

    I'm using just one set of dies from the Tribal range namely the Elephant Duo Thinlits set which comprises two super cute elephants and a couple of heart dies.

    I had the great pleasure to be demonstrating at Sprinkle Twinkle in Kings Lynn last weekend, we had a wonderful time and it's so nice to see a retailer which goes that extra mile for it's customers. 

    It's a great shop full of inspirational ideas and products. While I was there I fell in love with a couple of stamp sets from a US company named Precious Remembrance Shop. Apparently, Sprinkle Twinkle are their only UK stockist at the moment but I'm sure they are going to be huge. The set I used is called Positive Thoughts Stamp Set which is just one of many great collections.

    Don't you just love it when you stumble across a great new product and want to share it with the world?

    Anyway... Back to the cards! I die-cut the large elephant from a warm grey card and applied a little Distress Ink around the edges (Pumice Stone). Next, I die-cut a strip of rust coloured card across the heart detail on the die. I Attached a couple of strips of sticky tape to the rear of the main elephant and  lightly inked the top of each heart before attaching them into their corresponding aperture holes


    I continued with this process until I had decorated the whole elephant. Next, I cut a 12 x 12 cm square of ivory card before rounding of the corners with a punch. I applied some Old Paper Distress Ink around the edges and added some stamped detail. Next, I stamped my sentiment onto ivory card before colouring the heart using markers before trimming it to size, inking the edges and attaching to the rectangle using a stapler.


    I attached the rectangle to a deep blue base card with staples and added a couple of Die-cut hearts from the same set.


    I was only going to make one card but then I looked at the other cute little elephant and it seemed a crime not to make another! I die-cut the elephant in two shades of brown and inked the edges as before. Next, I cut an 8 x 14 cm rectangle of ivory card before rounding off the corners. I inked and stamped as before and applied my sentiment using adhesive foam pads.

    I die-cut three large and two small hearts and I placed the large hearts and the elephant onto the rectangle, roughly in the position where I want them to sit before using a marker to make a dot at the top of the elephants body and at the bottom of each heart. Using a ruler I joined up the dots with the marker and added some bows to give the illusion of balloon strings.


    And here is the finished card, I love the combination of the contemporary shapes and super cool stamps, hope you do too?



  • Flower Power

    Wednesday, 6 May, 2015


    This weekend my wife and I went for a picnic with some friends and our children. We climbed a steep woodland path which brought us out at a place called Bluebell Wood where the trees start to thin out and either side of the winding path is carpeted thick with..... bluebells!

    I love being in the woods this time of year because the colour of young leaves and bluebells combined with slanting sunlight is nothing short of stunning so I thought that it was time for some rich floral colour.

    I have only used one die, Flower layers & Leaf #2 from the good people at Doodlebug Design which is one of my favourite releases in recent months. If memory serves I used a little while back for some textiles projects (very versatile!)

    You are going to love the papers that I am using today and you are probably wondering where you can buy them and more importantly, how much they will cost? well, they are FREE!!! all you have to do is follow this link and you can print them off to your hearts content!

    This weekend I will be visiting Sprinkle Twinkle in Kings Lynn demonstrating all the latest Sizzix goodies so if you are in the area why not pop in and say hello! You wont be disappointed because it's a regular Aladdin's cave of all the latest and greatest crafting gizmos.

    I started by creating a 12 x 17 cm cream base card before cutting an 11 x 16 cm rectangle of floral card and rounding off the corners with a punch after which I attached it to the face of the base card. I could happily send this card as it is I love this paper so much!




    Next, I cut an 8 x 10 cm rectangle of cream card, rounded off the corners and wound a length of natural twine around the top before securing with a double bow.


    I chose the phrase 'Bloomin' marvellous' from the embellishment sheet because it reminded me of my Aunty Blod! Using a craft knife I trimmed one end into a banner.


    I attached the banner to the cream rectangle using a staple and die cut the parts of the flower from some of the assorted FREE Papers. Sorry to put it in capitals, but you don't get much for free these days!


    And here is our card assembled. I also added the little die cut star burst to the centre of the flower and finished it with an adhesive gem.


    Here's another one just for fun using the same die and papers and of course my old friends the circle and scallop circle Framelits.



  • Little animal!

    Wednesday, 29 April, 2015

    Leo is a little animal! He is the eldest son (almost five) of one of my best friends and since he was born I have called him 'Leo the lion'. when we meet, rather than exchange pleasantries we both bare our claws and growl at each other which is swiftly followed by a fight to the death (I always lose).

    For his birthday this year I have bought him a lion watch but what I really needed was something cool to wrap it in which brings me neatly to this weeks blog post.

    As you are all probably aware by new Sizzix have unveiled the Big Shot Plus which is the same as your beloved Big Shot but in A4 format. You can use all your existing library of Sizzix dies but now you can also use larger format dies and embossing folders. 

    It also comes as a starter kit which has everything you could ever wish for to set you on your creative journey including a fabulous Thinlits box die and I know that there will be many more box dies released in the near future.

    For my project I needed to cut two cream coloured boxes from a good heavy weight card, I know that the illustration below shows a box cut from kraft card but I used this because it photographs better! As you can see, the die both cuts and creases the box which is all one piece with a hinged lid....Ingenious!!!


    I took one of the cream boxes and added some Distress Ink in a random fashion (Tea Dye and Wild Honey). I flipped the box over and labelled the parts before cutting it up along the crease lines using a craft knife.


    I started with the top of the box which I cut into 3 separate strips. Next I placed them into the new wood grain folder designed by Doodlebug and debossed the wood grain texture.


    I darkened the edges of each strip slightly using Vintage Photo Distress Ink and applied a rubber stamp which comes from a set called Sentiment Circles by Autumn Leaves. I attached the three strips to the top of the other assembled cream box. Next, I applied the same treatment to the front and sides of the lid before working my way around the whole box.


    After popping the watch into the box on a bed of paper straw I applied the finishing touches. Firstly a length of chain from a piece of old costume jewellery wrapped twice around the box to secure the lid. Secondly, a mini padlock charm and finally a tiny tag printed with my PC. I love the overall effect and I hope both you and Leo do too?




  • Baby Love!

    Wednesday, 22 April, 2015


    Seasons and themes come and go in the creative universe, one day you are decorating a hat with spring flowers and before you know it your putting the finishing touches to your Christmas cards!

    The one constant throughout the year is babies! Here at Sizzix central we are welcoming back Helen from her maternity leave and at the same time we will be waving goodbye to Hannah as she starts her very own.

    Sizzix is always here to offer a helping hand and this week we are giving you the opportunity to download a fabulous range of baby papers for free (love that word!) all you need to do to find out more is click on this link.http://www.sizzix.co.uk/new-baby-free-papers-signup

    We don't really have a current range of specific baby dies so I have been forced to improvise once more, which can only mean my good friends Framelits circles and Scalloped circles sets.


    I started with a circle die and a slightly larger scalloped circle die before die-cutting a blue and a pink spotty circle from the free papers. Next, I die cut two shades of yellow card using the scalloped circle before matting them together with the circles. I used a craft knife to cut away a segment from the blue spotty circle and I used a smaller circle die to cut an aperture in the pink spotty circle before decorating both with suitable ribbon.


    I cut two rectangles of white card (11 x 16 cm) and attached rectangles of striped paper before rounding off the corners with a punch. Next, I cut two rectangles of the patterned paper before trimming one end into a chevron. I trimmed the 'Baby Girl' border motif from the embellishments paper before cutting the name 'UNA' from the alphabet supplied using a craft knife.


    That's all the work done now comes the fun bit which is putting it all together of course!

    As you can see I allowed the 'Baby Girl' border over hang the ends of the rectangle before trimming as shown. Next, I attached the two banners before mounting the assembled bib using adhesive foam pads. The letters which were cut out earlier were attached to white card before cutting around each letter to leave a slight border. The letters where then attached to the card using the foam pads.

     You are probably wondering what happened to the other die-cut shape, well, it became the pram on the boys card below with a little help from a couple of threaded buttons.

    So simple yet so effective! have fun!


  • Pizza my heart!

    Wednesday, 15 April, 2015


    On April 1st I posted a blog featuring a grey bag embellished with a die-cut flower. In the centre of the flower is a large diamanté gem which was taken from a hair band  that I found in one of the shops down the road from here. As I was waiting in line to pay for the hair band and other assorted costume jewellery (I get the funniest looks!) I spotted a t-shirt which was the inspiration for today's blog; I just transformed it into a card.

    When I saw the t-shirt I had just completed a couple of blogs using my beloved heart Framelits dies so they were fresh in my mind and it just made perfect sense!

    I used one of the dies from the Framelits Hearts set which has six identical hearts in various sizes. I die-cut 3 separate hearts from ivory,pale yellow and red card before gathering all 3 together and cutting away a wedge with a good sharp pair of scissors. I created some contrast around the edges of the ivory wedge using Antique Linen and Vintage Photo Distress Ink.


    Next, I used my scissors to trim away part of the red wedge and attached it to the ivory wedge. To complete my pizza slice, I trimmed the yellow wedge to size before using a couple of hole punches to add the pattern which when layered onto the red wedge gives the appearance of pepperoni. Finally, I used my inks to apply a little contrast.


    If you don't have a set of the Alphanumeric alphabet and number dies then you are really missing out. This set has multiples of each letter so that you can actually spell out a word to cut an aperture if you wish....LOVE this set!

    I used the dies to cut out the letters to spell the word 'PIZZA' from a lovely olive coloured card before laying them out and measuring the height and width of the word.

    Once I had the dimensions of the die-cut word I could create the rest of the phrase using my PC and printing onto white card. I took the red heart from which I had cut the wedge and smothered it with red glitter before assembling all the elements onto the card as shown below. I used adhesive foam pads to mount the heart and pizza slice to bring a little dimension.

    Hope you like it!





  • Must haves!

    Wednesday, 8 April, 2015

    When does want become need? when does 'I would like' become 'I must have.....NOW!' and no, I'm not talking about wine, chocolate or shoes but a couple of new Sizzix Bigz dies which cut the most divine 3D flowers ever.

    I've used card for this piece but they are Bigz dies so they would be just as effective in textiles and a host of other other materials too.

    The dies concerned are Bigz Flowers 3-D #3 and flowers 3-D #4. click on the links for a closer look.

    I started with a blank wooden frame which was just crying out to be altered in some way, shape or form. I applied a little gesso (white acrylic paint will work too) to a craft sheet and rolled it out into a thin layer with a brayer before applying it to the frame.


    I chose a text stamp from Tim Holtz' Stampers Anonymous range and used a mid brown Distress Ink to add the text in a random pattern onto the frame.


    I used both dies to die-cut white paper to give you a better indication of what they are all about. Next, I went through my paper stash and pulled out some My Minds Eye papers from the fabulous Lost & Found ranges and die-cut the three different flowers.


    I used Old Paper and Vintage Photo Distress Ink pads to add a little contrast to the edges of the petals and then I applied a little glue to the tab to create the 3-D effect, I also curled the petals back to create a more naturalistic effect.


    I die-cut the long centre strip and used a pair of scissors to snip down the centre of the sticky-outy bits (technical jargon alert!!!). I inked the tips and rolled the strip using a pair of tweezers before bending the individual bits back to create the flowers centre. I repeated with the other two flowers and attached the centres accordingly.

    I die-cut a selection of 3-D spiral flowers and inked the edges of the lighter ones before gently sanding the tips of the darker ones.


    There are various theories as how best to create the 3-D flowers but I like to use a pair of tweezers and roll the shape keeping the tweezers facing the centre. Once the petals are rolled all the way simply add a blob of hot glue and allow the flower to slightly unravel as much or as little as required before the glue sets.


    Use the tweezers to bend the tips of the petals over to create a natural looking bloom.


    I added some natural twine to the top of the frame before arranging the flowers as shown. 

    I'm sure that I will be returning to these dies again and again in the future.



  • Bags of fun!

    Wednesday, 1 April, 2015

    Today is a complete change of direction from last week, I wanted to do something 'off the page' as they say. 

    I love using recycled materials wherever possible and I can often be found haunting the local charity shops for things to die-cut or decorate. 

    I have been working with fabrics recently, and I'm forever picking the brains of Angela, our in-house textile guru asking increasingly ridiculous questions about various fabrics and their properties thinking that one day I can put all this knowledge to some good use (don't hold your breath!)

    I am using another of those stunning Sizzix Bigz flower dies. I love the contemporary feel of the shapes and the leaf is just gorgeous as you will see. The die in question is called Flower Layers & Leaf #2 by the clever people at Doodlebug Design.

    I raided the local charity shops and left with a grey clutch bag, two pairs of jeans and some lace fabric (I get the funniest looks!!). I cut away the seams in the legs of the jeans and layered two strips of denim back to back, I put a sheet of Bondaweb in between the strips and applied a hot iron. Having that double thickness will give my flowers more spring or body, and another advantage of using the heat fusible web stops the fabric from fraying when die-cut. 

    I die-cut four large denim flowers and four lace flowers before laying a lace flower over each denim flower.


    I folded the flowers in half and half again before securing with a a few stitches where the flowers come to a point. I recommend a good strong thread for fabric of this thickness. I repeated the process with the other three sets of flowers and placed them point to point. At this stage you can stitch them onto a circle of fabric to keep them together ready to mount onto your project. 


    I die-cut one of the smaller flowers from a single layer of darker denim backed with bondaweb to stop any fraying. Next, i used a needle and thread to add a few stitches down the centre of each individual petal to give the flower some added dimension before dipping into my bling box which is a treasure trove of recovered costume jewellery including bracelets, necklaces and earrings etc. I came up with a rather lovely diamante gem which, if memory serves, came from a hair band! I added the gem to the centre of the flower before mounting this into the centre of our assembled denim/lace flower. I die-cut the leaf from the same dark denim before attaching both to the rear of the flower.

    I attached the flower by stitching through the bag, any unsightly stitching can be covered with a button if preferred. Not bad for recycled materials? You can use this flower as a broach or to decorate a hat too if preferred.


    Here is a card made using the same die to show the oval centre and retro star shape which are part of the design. I love the versatility of these shapes and this is another in a long list of dies that I could not be without.






  • Eggstatic!

    Wednesday, 25 March, 2015

    Here I am again with my awful Easter themed puns, although I have decided to stop apologising!

    Last week we made a cute tiger using a set of Framelits hearts dies this week we are making an Easter bunny using the same set. I have made the bunny before on this blog but I have added a few extra details. 

    If you want to use the same card/papers then you can download them for free from the Sizzix website by following this link. I like to attach the papers to stiff card using spray adhesive to make them a little more substantial when die-cutting.

    I will number the dies 1 to 6 with 1 being the smallest and 6 the largest to make the instructions easier to follow.

    You can also download the solid colours to complement the pattern papers and embellishment sheet. I have used these solid colours to die-cut the bunny.

    Die-cut two pink hearts using the the number 3 heart one magenta heart using the number 2 and one magenta heart using the number 1 heart

    Cut one of the number 3 pink hearts and one of the magenta number 2 hearts in half down the centre and use the parts to create the ears.



     Attach the ears to the rear of the pink number 3 heart and attach the number 1 magenta heart using an adhesive foam pad to create the nose. Die-cut a white number 1 heart and attach it upside down below the nose to create the distinctive teeth using an adhesive foam pad. Add a couple of black adhesive pearls for the rabbit's eyes.

    Die-cut a pink number 5 and a magenta number 3 heart before cutting both in half and use two of the halves to form the body.Die-cut a pink number 2 heart and cut it in half to form the feet and die cut a white number 1 heart to form the tail.


    Trim around the green 'Happy Easter' phrase and die-cut a pink number 1 heart before cutting it in half. the two halves will form the bunny's hands/paws. Attach the hands to the top of the banner as shown using adhesive foam pads and gently curl them around the rear of the banner.


    Assemble all the bits of your bunny prior to mounting onto the base card. My white base card measures 14 x 21 cm, almost A5 in other words. I have attached a rectangle of the yellow spotty paper and a strip of the diamond patterned trim taken from the embellishment sheet.

    And here is the finished article, as you can see I have mounted the various bits using a combination of double-sided tape and adhesive foam pads to create a little dimension, For the finishing touch, I added some thin strips of white card to my bunny's cheeks in place of whiskers. I had so much fun revisiting the bunny, hope you like it? 







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