Archive for December, 2011
I guess I should put in some history before I do that. I use Photoshop CS4 normally for photo editing and to do digi-scrapbooking (if I have time). It’s a great yet expensive piece of kit. One that I’ve always wanted to get to grips with better, but one that requires a hefty amount of both time and IQ to conquer. I was really chuffed to receive this as I’d got a freebie basic copy with another craft mag a while back and had a brief explore but found it was a bit basic for what I wanted it for.
So, how did I find it? The positives;
1. It’s pretty easy once you’ve found your way around.
I used to be a lover of reading instruction manuals but now I tend to explore myself. There is a very good reason to look through their really good tutorials- it will save a whole HEAP of frustration!! However, due to another facet of my character being a slightly stubborn desire not to let things beat me, once I’d actually worked out how to load digital items into Craft Artist, it was plain sailing. It comes with 5 discs and a built in photo editor which is good and I have not managed to explore everything..but I will!
2. It’s really user friendly.
It does require a basic knowledge of computers and if you have used a publisher/photoshop type package before, you’ll find this really simple. It’s much easier to navigate than CS4 and unless you’re a graphic designer you’ll not really need much more in a graphics/design package. I just clicked around and discovered what different things did. Again, don’t do what I did, watch the tutorials and you’ll learn quickly what it took me a while to discover. However, after only using it twice, the Scrapbook layout only took about 30 minutes in total which is pretty good going.
The software retails at just under £30 which is a great price. The add on digikits are very good value but you could quite easily not spend anything beyond what you pay for your Craft Artist as there is a wealth of free digikits that would keep you going for a very long time. I have downloaded most of them from the site Daisy Trail which is a fabulous site with the options to upload what you’ve created and join in with the online community too.
4. What can you actually do with it?
Just starting out? They have pre-created cards and scrapbook layouts that you can simply print out onto paper or card. Wanting to make it more your own? All preloaded cards and layouts can be altered and added to ; a great starting point for playing around with the software. My scrapbooking layout took one of theirs and changed it around. Want a real challenge? Mix and match digital elements from different kits- you just add them to the left of the screen which acts like a big clipboard. You can start with a blank sheet and simply add elements to create a card for example, or, do as I did with the butterfly card- just print off the images you require and then use them as a normal card (the Inkblot Butterfly digikit which I used is gobsmackingly beautiful!). I do favour the ‘hybrid’ scrapbooking which means you do a layout digitally and then add to it using your normal crafting stash- kinda the best of both worlds.
The teeny eensy negative;
I would recommend it wholeheartedly but you do need Windows to use it. I have a somewhat decrepid laptop with limited memory space and a speed slower than most snails. The ideal would have been to have loaded it onto the family computer which, alas is a Mac. (We’re serious Apple lovers in our house). The only way I could look at the software in detail was to reboot the Apple in Windows, load the software, create the projects, save them as pdf’s, reboot the computer back to Mac OS (the printer isn’t set up with Windows and I couldn’t face hunting for the drivers), email myself the pdf’s, download them onto my laptop, change them into jpegs in CS4 (as wordpress didn’t appreciate them being pdf’s) and then upload them here. NOT FUN! I’m really hoping they might consider bringing out a Mac compatible version (really soon? Pretty please?!!!)
I hope you like all the projects. The white transparencies are some Hambly overlays I had in and seemed to fit in beautifully. By adjusting the brightness on other elements in the kit, I could have created something very similar and simply printed onto printable acetate. That’s the versatility of the package- once you start playing, you’ll appreciate its simple complexity (if you get my drift!). I’m also entering these butterfly cards in a City Crafter ‘Fussy cutting’ challenge; you know me, I love making minute movements with a small pair of scissors. The swirls are all cut out too. Steve asked me last night what I’d been doing. ‘Having fun cutting out butterflies’. He laughed rather cynically but appreciates I’m a girl of simple tastes!!!
Must go, these nights are getting later and later and the dreaded ‘s’ word is looming! x
These little bags were my cheat to providing Christmas cards to some of my friends and mostly my neighbours. The fudge hadn’t set fully- needed fridging- but its all in the taste supposedly!-so I might just have gotten away with it!
As its Christmas, You’ll allow one emotional post, won’t you?!
All our thoughts have turned to Christmas now, no matter how scroogesque you pertain to be! As I’ve been reflecting myself, my thoughts have turned tonight to a particular group of women that I have the honour of knowing. It’s a group I belong to, a club that no-one ever wanted to join but a sisterhood where we’re bound more powerfully together than most friendships. When I count all of these girls up, they span across the globe and number more than I wish I knew. We’ve all lost children and the tales I could tell about how amazingly I met them are for another occasion. You cannot help but be inspired and strengthened by their courage, faith and inability to give up.
We’re a disparate group yet a special one. Their stories would make grown men cry and yet you rarely see them do so. They have often learned that crying is best saved for when they’re with trusted friends or in the safety of their own four walls.
Why am I sharing this? Because, as you’ve probably guessed, this time of year is often fairly difficult. It’s not that we try to think more, it’s just supposed to be a family time (as all the adverts often remind us with picture perfect family scenes!). It’s not even something you can help; only last week I left church in tears (no-one saw, I just didn’t want to be that sad in front of everyone). Emotion just rises up sneakily and shakes you up once more- it doesn’t matter how many years or weeks it has been…I’d just love if you would pray and care for anyone who is heartbroken. They won’t look heartbroken, but I promise you, they are- and often they are weeping silently inside. Just allow for them and bear with them-they will appreciate it more than you will ever understand. I have had one particular friend who I know has had me in her thoughts and prayers recently; I’m very thankful for her.
This post is also a tribute to all these amazing women- to keep going, keep loving and keep sharing your stories. There is hope; you know that the reason to keep living is found in the manger in Bethlehem and although He’s not there anymore, the incredible truth of a Saviour who meets this worlds’ needs by being born to die is still a powerful message.
I wanted to also thank you all for reading this blog- thanks for all your lovely comments both on and off the web. I wish you all a really hope-filled Christmas and look forward to sharing with you after Christmas. I will be back once I’ve eaten a few too many calories and added to the paper mountain!!
Happy Christmas xxx
I know it’s been a long time! I’ve been so busy but most of the things I’ve been making have already been given away or couldn’t be photographed. This card was photographed at night; my first attempt under seriously rubbish lighting using angled light. It’s ok for a first go- more improvement needed.
This is one of my Christmas cards that I’ve been mass-producing. All well and good until I realised that to send these babies through the post would require a ‘large’ stamp and make Christmas posting hideously expensive. Thus, they were downgraded- sadly, as the jingle bells were definitely my favourite part! In order to go with something I’m doing, I also did a YouTube video. The quality is really awful but that’s because its been compressed by 99%!! You do not want to know how big the file was beforehand! I’m now playing around with compression sizes until I can find a size that allows me to upload without waiting until 2013- but still retains a reasonably clear image. That’s quite possibly an ‘after-Christmas’ job!
Whilst I’m typing this, I’m sipping a dark hot chocolate- not as luxurious as the one I gave away as a present today, but not bad either. I know we often have sudden impulse moments after seeing recipes on TV, but after watching Jamie Oliver last week, his ‘epic hot chocolate’ seemed like a perfect gift. I changed the recipe slightly to accommodate a lack of enough plain choc, and thought that white choc looked quite pretty in contrast. Here’s a side view- I layered it up to look more attractive (they can mix it all up later!)
It is a sizeable amount of chocolate- but a) can you ever have too much? and b) there is enough mix here for 4 pints of hot chocolate which is probably too much to ingest at one sitting for even themost serious of chocoholics! I presented it like this-
in my ubiquitous Kilner-type jars and added 2 mini Candy-canes for their two boys to do some stirring with. That said, I doubt their sons will get much of a look in with this beverage!! I also was busy filling up jars with various treats for the teachers at school. Just put in anything calorific and its bound to work a treat for soothing teachers’ ruffled nerves come end-of-term! By the end of term, however, I couldn’t down a single chocolate treat and hardly any healthy calories for that matter……
One of the dubious joys of having a large family is best felt at times of illness. It was last Monday evening and I had literally just finished a costume for one of mine for their Victorian Day the next morning. There is a good reason why it was a bit last minute and I was fairly proud of my home made mop cap and maids apron created from a largish heavyweight cotton embroidered charity shop table-cloth. Just as I was tying off the last thread, Jamie appeared, looking a peppermint green colour and announced that he was feeling sick. To be honest, the rest of that evening and night kind of disappeared in a sick-filled twilight zone that ended with 3 kids in our bed taking it turns to vomit. Nice. Steve managed to sleep through most of it which was fortunate. He really needed to be at work. I, on the other hand, was less lucky. The germs managed to keep me busy that night and descend on me during the morning. Perfect timing. The last week before school finishes and you have lists on your lists! Ah well. Couldn’t be helped.
I was thankful for several things; 1)copious amounts of plastic-ware in the house. 2)An extraordinary lack of appetite that has helped shift my post-christmas excess weight even before I put it on and 3)- 2 days motionless on the sofa were very good for me. It takes something like that to make you stop completely. I’m now doing double-duty with the washing machine etc etc but maybe, just maybe I needed the sit down!
On the 12 Days of Christmas front- there were lots of widely different answers. The correct answer was 11 and Congratulations—- Ros was nearest with the answer 12. I will be contacting you shortly to see which choice of prizes you would like.
Had better dash- will be back before Christmas to wish you all a Happy Christmas!
Til then xx
Hey! Happy Monday. I thought you might like something a little different and not paper related. All of this jewellery came about because I bought an oversized cashmere sweater in a charity shop. It was more expensive than I wanted to pay (£8!!) but I knew I’d get a decent amount of felt from it so it would be worth it. Felting sweaters involves agitation, some sort of soap/detergent and heat. The process is really easy- just put into your washing machine at a high heat, add washing powder/liquid, go put your feet up (or not!), come back at the of the cycle, repeat the cycle if its not quite shrunken down enough and then put it into the tumble dryer (which I now have and so am exceddingly happy that my house isnt overrun with wet washing!). It was after the tumble drying that the Eureka moment happened.
You need to clean the lint/fluff out after every dryer cycle and so after doing the felting, I had a really lovely ball of wool ‘fluff’. I wasn’t sure whether it would be any use- particularly as it had already been felted and ‘shrunk’. I wanted to see if I could use it to make some felt beads. This is a really simple process- just a small lump of wool, some hot water and washing up liquid. You put a small amount of hot water onto the wool, and the teeniest blob of detergent and get rolling, like making a plasticine ball. Keep rolling and adding more water if necessary. If its too wet, it wont roll into a ball and you just need to squeeze it out and keep rolling. After the first one, I got the feel for it and made about 10 of them. The challenge was getting matching sized balls for the jewellery. You know the balls are done when you throw them onto a surface and they bounce! After they’d dried, I used a needle to pierce them and sewed them together using knots to keep them in place. They are incredibly lightweight and you don’t feel like you’re actually wearing them. I wanted to make a necklace or choker and decided to use some of the seam on one of the jumper arms that I twirled and folded and then sewed up to create a make-shift rose. It’s using up every part of the jumper and I wanted to use the other beads too. I had some red beads in my bead drawer that were perfect and some memory wire so that is what I made the choker with. I embroidered a ‘loop’ on the back of the rose and thats how its attached to the memory wire.
The last part of the set is the brooch- this was ridiculously easy thanks to a Sizzix die from SU! that cuts through the felt like a knife through butter! I haven’t quite finished this one- I’m going to pepper the brooch with tiny seed beads but that will probably get done after December! They were all made in about 1 hour and a half- so not bad going and as I’ve got most of thefelted jumper left- it cost about £2 (including the wire and beads) to make. Pretty great value too.
The reason I made them was to go with a dress I’d bought for a wedding I went to on Saturday. I wasn’t intending to buy a new dress but in a charity shop were 3 designer silk dresses, brand new, in my size and only £9.98! I snapped one up, and then realised the age old problem of – what on earth do I put with it! I had a black velvet jacket at home that would go and just needed a pair of shoes. After a lot of searching, I found another charity shop bargain ‘Jasper Conran’ shoes complete with tags! Alas, the shoes were peep toe. It’s December, cold, and I didn’t fancy bare legs! So I then had to hunt for something. Do you go for nude-coloured tights- is it committing a faux-pas showing tights through peep-toes?! Apparently not. The fashion police have recently seemingly approved this with several conditions; 1. Preferably dark tights with dark shoes. 2. If you go with skin-colour- make sure they’re fairly sheer and pull the seam part away from the edge of your toes and under your foot so its not showing! Please- who actually makes up these rules?!!!
Anyhow, I thought I’d scored a winner by accidentaly coming across a pair of tights with a black seam and black toes and heels but skin colour on the actual tights. It came to the evening reception and I actually wanted to make an effort and banished the kids for half an hour. It didnt work- they were all intrigued as to exactly why I wanted to be kid-free. Just shows how little dressing up goes on in my household! I got the tights out- duh- they were actually stockings. Arrggh. A tiny teeny label on the top alerted you to that. Should have read it properly. So I got out the spare tights (phew for being organised) and put the whole outfit on. Have you ever put something on and just not felt like you? I just didnt really like it. Gorgeous dress, just not me at all. The dress went away. I dug out an old favourite black dress, shoved the jacket on, added my newly created jewellery and felt ok. I went to put my shoes on. I knew they were one size larger but as they were sling backs I thought I could alter them. (I tell this story as a word of caution to not attack your shoes with items designed for crafting. ) I have a crop-a-dile which has come in pretty handy over the years for adding holes to belts etc. No problem , I thought. Just add another hole in each shoe, tighten the back and we’re good to go! I put holes in right places…and the wrong places. The device cuts holes in the opposite side too and I managed to loop the sling back through the opposite hole and cut a hole into another part of the shoe. Not once, but twice. By this point I was rather hacked off- wondering why I’d started this in the first place. Fortunately, it hadn’t pierced anywhere too obvious but by the time I came downstairs, I knew that me and the conrans were never going to be friends. I wear some seriously high heels, but these were just plain uncomfortable. Back upstairs, found another pair and went out. I ask you- why do we do this stuff to ourselves?! Too much like hard work! The wedding had been beautiful, the bride stunning, the family are all completely lovely and it was great once I finally got there.
Moral of the story. You know. It’s fairly obvious. If you’re wanting to create a new look, Do some proper planning. Don’t take your 4 year old whilst you are shopping and possibly secure the help of friend, personal shopper or failing all of that- Gok Wan!
Well- December is rushing by already and I’ve heaps to do. See you when I’ve dug out my Christmas decorations! x