Monday, 26 March 2012

Rugs R Us

Although I crafted quite a bit when I was younger, once I passed my mid teens my main creative outlet was cooking. I had a brief dalliance with cake decorating in my early 20s, but it wasn't until I gave up working full time a few years ago that I had the time to explore card making. Originally, I just wanted to be able to send a nice card that didn't have a cheesy verse and did feature the obscure interests of my friends. I soon discovered a love of paper and stamps though, and an obsession was born!

Since falling love with card making, I've endeavoured to make time to try out a new craft every year. As goals go, I realise this is pretty modest, but when you work in crafting, it's surprising how hard it is to find the time to work on a project that doesn't have a deadline! Some of the new crafts (beading, quilling and cross stitch, for example) have become firm favourites that have made it into my 'normal' crafting repertoire, whereas others, like pyrography and clay modelling, were interesting and fun to try, but have failed to grab me in quite the same way. I've chosen knitting for 2012's new craft, and I'll be amazed if I don't become completely addicted to it, especially with little Bob to create for. First though, I had some unfinished business from 2011 to deal with. Last summer I finally got round to trying rug-making, using a little kit I bought in a sale a looooong time ago. It pushes many of the same buttons as cross stitching (relaxing, portable, limited mess, a potentially useful end product, and possible with a sleeping baby on your lap!), but scaled up so you get a great impression of progress. I only got halfway through last year though, as the kit got packed away so we could redecorate the craft room, and it's taken me this long to find it!

This week I managed to do the last few lines while Bob snoozed, and I'm really happy with the result. All I have to do now is figure out how to finish it off, and it'll become a wall hanging for the nursery. The kit doesn't help with edging - other than to say "put a nice edge on it", so if you have any advice of how to do it and where to get the bits, I'd love to hear about it.
In the meantime, I'm planning my next ruggy project. My Nanna once told me that she made rugs out of worn out clothes in the War, so I'll figure out a design of my own and take a look through my wardrobe. No slightly tatty clothes will ever be safe in my house again!


Friday, 16 March 2012

Drastic action

I may have mentioned my tendencies towards OCD... Well, one symptom is that I like to keep things in their packets.  I could claim that it makes it easier for when I put unused stuff on eBay, but I think we all know that's never going to happen :-)
Anyway, close on the heels of my paper and stamp addictions is my love of embossing folders.  I really can't resist them, and the drawer I keep them in had long since run out of space.  I'd ended up with a tottering tower of the things, and no way to find a particular one in a hurry.  So, this week I took some drastic action - I took them all out the packets.  What a difference it's made!  Manufacturers could really do with rethinking their packaging, as I think I've halved the space they take up!  Most of the clear plastic sleeves were scuffed, so they went in the recycler, but I've cut panels of acetate from the best ones to use in shaker cards.  I've also kept quite a few of the backing cards, as there are some lovely patterns among them, and I'm sure I can use them on some projects (just in case I don't have enough paid-for papers!).  My embossing folders all fit in the drawer now with room to spare.  I've just had a birthday too, so I think I might have to buy some more :-)

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Fun with seared stamps

One of my favourite ranges of stamps of recent years is the John Byars wooden set of nostalgic childhood images, released by do crafts in 2010. They remind me of pictures of my Dad when he was little (always in shorts!), and that in turn gives me a warm gooey feeling of closeness to my dear, departed Nanna. I was lucky enough to demo the collection on Create and Craft with Stephanie Weightman, and it was the first time I had a sell out in the hour.

I'm often asked at demos whether wood-mounted rubber stamps are better than clear unmounted ones. It's a tricky question, as it depends on your priorities. Wooden stamps are lovely to hold, and rubber stamps can be used for techniques involving direct heat, like triple embossing, or stamping onto films and fibres. They do require a bit more care when cleaning though, take up more space (although you can unmount them), are more expensive, and are harder to position precisely. In contrast, clear acrylic stamps are cheap, easy to use and clean (as long as you don't mind some staining), but can't be used with direct heat. My advice generally is just to choose the images you like, regardless of material, unless you want to build up scenes/complex images (choose clear) or use direct heat (choose rubber).

With the John Byars stamps though, I found another reason to choose wood-mounted. The guide image has been seared onto the wood, rather than just printed, so you can try out your brass-rubbing skills on them for a different effect. That's how I got the inverse kite effect at the bottom of this card, using watercolour pencils. You need to press quite firmly, keep the pencils as flat as possible (so you don't fall down the dents) and take care not to rub to the edge of the stamp (or you get a line). I really like the effect, and I'd love to hear what you think of it, so please leave me a comment. I'd also love to know if you've found any other stamps with seared images like this.

If you missed out on these stamps, don't despair. Do crafts have some designs left in their sale here at nearly half price if you're a Creativity Club member.