Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wow!!! Look what my postie brought me!!!

Out of the blue, a beautiful gift from Sharon, who some of you might know as Magpie over at UKS.

We were having a good old heart to heart last week about some of the stuff I went through last year, and she has made me this little work of art to remind me I can always bend her ear if I need someone to talk to.

Such a fantastic gesture, and such a beautiful medium to pass on the message.

I shall treasure it, thank you Sharon!

Just look at the amazing detail, this must have taken hours to make!!:

Even the back is immaculate:

it really made my day :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Love hurts part deux

It's stampy CJ time again.

This journal in the UKStampers circle is "lurve" themed, and came with a swirly heart stamp.

The owner of the CJ requested that we stay on theme, and also work in reds/pinks.

The other entries in the book so far are all very positive, and very much pushing love as a good thing, so I thought in the interests of editorial balance I should redress the balance a little, and remind everyone what a shitter it is when it all goes wrong :)

Cynical, moi??? :D

And it gave me another excuse to use my beloved Cherry Pie stamp of the crying lady.

A little quiz - can any of you identify the quote? I've paraphrased it slightly so you probably won't be able to google it. First person to get it right and leave the answer in a comment gets a prize :)

a quick how-to:

The background is Daler Rowney pearlescent acrylic inks in lilac, pink and pearl white, applied with a sponge over dampened watercolour paper.

Onto the background I stamped some Tim Holtz flourishes in satin red Versafine, and a script stamp in cloud white Versamark.

I chose to use the swirly heart stamp that came with the CJ as a mat for my heartbroken lady to sit on, so that was stamped next using black cherry Stazon, and lightly overpainted with interference red acrylic paint to bring it out from the background a little.

The lady was stamped over the top of the heart with midnight blue Stazon, and then completely overpainted with pearl acrylic, and then once that was dry, with a thin layer of milled lavender crackle paint. Once the crackle paint had totally dried and crackled, I re-stamped the lady over the top using a stamp positioner (I need more practice with that thing - I didn't get her dead on, but it's not too bad). This was my first time trying Dan99's painted mask technique and I was fairly pleased with how it turned out. Maybe a less detailed stamp would look better without the little cracks to distract from it, and crackle paint should be left to bold lined or solid stamps, but you live and learn :)

For the right hand page I made the hand/heart from super cheap airdry clay from my local bargain shop (39p a pack!!! and you get LOADS in a pack too). I cut the hand and heart out with cookie cutters.

The hand was painted with bronze acrylics, then drybrushed with rose pink acrylic before glazing with a couple of layers of clear UTEE. The heart was painted bronze, and then overpainted with a thick layer of fired brick crackle paint. The thick application of paint generates large cracks, which reveal the metallic layer below.

To finish off, the quote was stamped using Making Memories magnetic letter stamps onto strips of burgundy cardstock using pearlescent pink ink.

</end how-to>

As for me - I am happy to report that I couldn't be feeling less like my Cherry Pie lady right now. I took today and yesterday off work and spent some quality time with Ian, and it was wonderful, he is wonderful, and I am happy as can be <3

Saturday, April 26, 2008

'citing stuff - baby Kesler could be here any day!

From yesterday's Vancouver Sun:

Kesler confirmed he won't be playing for Team USA in the upcoming world championships due to his wife's advanced pregnancy. In fact, the Keslers thought the baby, a girl, was on its way Wednesday night and rushed off to hospital in what turned out to be a false alarm.

"We all got excited," said the 23-year-old Kesler. "The baby is due the first week of May but it looks like we're going to have it even earlier. I definitely made the right decision not going to the world championships because I would have been devastated if I missed the birth.

"Now I will get to spend three or four months with our baby girl before training camp. That will be good."

Good luck Andrea! :)

Plus a vid from locker clean out day

(stuff like this will end up being stored over at rather than on here....but I don't have the video library set up there yet, and I don't want to lose the link :))

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Fiver - April 25th

1. When did you last get lost?

Oh, I get lost ALL THE TIME!!! A recent classic was walking over to my local pub. It is 5 minutes away, tops, it took me 45 minutes because I literally forgot where it was and walked around in circles for ages :D In my defence, I don’t ever go there. But I do drive past it twice a day and it is right by my house!!!

The last time was earlier this week when I tried to go and buy rubber stamps and ink pads at a local craft store and ended up deep in farm country with NO idea where I was. When I finally found the shop, and told the lady behind the till about how relieved I was to find her, she said “I bet you could hear the theme tune from Deliverance in your ears” lol

2. Have you ever been flying?

Yup – in planes and helicopters. I draw the line at hang gliding. I have no fear of flying as long as I am inside something and not just dangling free :)

3. Who do you always listen to?

The same music over and over, as my media player library is in dire need of an update. It is especially loaded down with Muse, Pearl Jam, John Frusciante, Chilis, Roy Harper, Placebo, and Nick Drake.

4. When does the day feel long?

When I’m at work, and not very busy. Like today. Yawn. Is it hometime yet???????

5. Friday fill-in:
Are we _____ ?
allowed to go home yet????????????

More jewellery - I'm on a roll :) - for Belinda

...and once again, Craftster was the inspiration. I just LOVE that place!!! I've been looking at all the wonderful stencilled t shirts in the image repro section today - oh me oh my (I'm Pinky Pinkerton)- but that's for another day....

So - yes - Craftster - a member called nom_de_plume posted this fabulous cityscape bracelet the other day (she herself had been influenced by the website

And I thought, I gotta do me one of them!

At the same time, I was thinking, what can I make for Belinda - the lovely lady who got us our amazing (and free!) tickets to the Canucks vs Oilers game last month?

Anam put 2 and 2 together and suggested a bracelet for Belinda based on the Edmonton skyline, and we were go go go!!!

Here's a quick how-to:

First I found a suitable photo of Edmonton on the net :

Then I worked out what size I needed it to be in order to create 6 blocks each around 2cm square. As the shrink plastic I was using shrinks by a factor of around 3, I needed to print the panorama out 36cm wide. This is wider than an A4 sheet on landscape setting, so I cut the photo into 2 pieces each 18cm wide.

I printed them out, and cut them into 6 6cm wide sections - and I numbered them to make sure I didn't get them out of order. And then I cut 6 6cm-square pieces of frosted shrink plastic:

The corners of each piece of shrink were rounded, with a corner rounder, it does what it says on the can :) And I cut a template from a post it note, to ensure that I punched the holes for the jumprings in the exact same place on each piece.

The next step was to trace the skyline onto the shrink plastic pieces, I used an ultra fine black sharpie pen:

Then I used Brilliance ink in blue and copper (the Oilers' colours) to colour in each image. I used a cut and dry nib for each colour close to the outline, and a cosmetic sponge for the rest:

Once shrunk, the pieces darken up to a nice dark blue, and rich copper finish:

To add a little more shimmer, I sprayed with a suspension of copper Perfect Pearls (self fixing mica powder) - you can see the flash picking up the mica in a couple of the photos coming up.

Then it was just a case of joining all the pieces together with antique copper jump rings:

and adding a length of chain to each end piece, and a copper toggle clasp (see photo at the top of this post - please do click on that one to see it full size, by the way, it looks naff smallified)

Here is the finished bracelet as modelled by my oldest son (I never realised his hands were so veiny!!)

Chuffed with how this has turned out, I will be making me a Vancouver one next! (and we have a prettier skyline than Edmonton :P)

Edited to add, matching gift box:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Faux resin necklace - inspired by Craftster

I have had a lot of fun experimenting tonight :)

Nothing turned out quite as planned, but never mind.

I have been admiring all the gorgeous resin jewellery over at Craftster, and decided it might be fun to try and do something similar using UTEE and my melt pot - which I haven't used in forever.

It turned out to be a bit of a comedy of errors...but I still like the finished article, and will happily wear it.

I took step by step photos just in case it turned out so well that the denizens of Craftster would be crying out for a "tute" - I think perhaps I was a little over confident there lol

But here they are anyway.

First up I made a couple of little shrink plastic embellishments to encapsulate in my "faux resin".

The tree is a Magenta rubber stamp, stamped onto clear shrink plastic with black Stazon ink. The bird was drawn freehand onto black shrink plastic and carefully cut out.

I shrunk them both with a heat gun.

Next, I melted a load of clear UTEE in my melt pot, and added a fair bit of flex so that the finished piece would not be prone to crack or scratch.

FIRST MISTAKE - I stirred the flex in, which caused a zillion bubbles. Apparently I should have exhibited more patience and left it longer to mix in by itself.

I poured a thin layer of the UTEE/Flex mixture into a round cookie cutter which I had "greased up" with a bit of embossing ink to ensure it would release easily later.

I also put a similarly "greased" drinking straw into the mixture so that my finished pendant would have a stringing hole.

SECOND MISTAKE - I didn't realise how thick my finished pendant would be, so I didn't grease high enough up the cookie cutter, which made it a bugger to get off later. Also the drinking straw was a bit big, I might look for something smaller to use as a hole maker next time.

Next step was to add some colour.

I waited until the first layer of UTEE was cool and solid, and lifted the cookie cutter off (easily, as it was still on the "greased" portion :) ). Then I used alcohol inks to colour the top of the UTEE.

I used butterscotch, terracotta and red pepper inks graduated from lightest colour at the bottom to darkest at the top, but the difference in the colours doesn't show up all that well on the finished piece. Ah well, there's nothing wrong with subtle :)

Next I replaced the cookie cutter, and put in the tree embellishment, and then poured a second layer of UTEE in. When this was solid I added the bird and poured on a third and final layer of UTEE.

This makes the piece nice and 3D, as the bird sits a couple of mm in front of the tree.

Here is the finished article:

A full view of the completed necklace with gorgeous copper clasp I bought from Ebay:

And what it looks like on:

It also looks pretty funky held up to the light as you can see at the top of this post.

All in all, despite the wrestling match I had with it to get it out of the cookie cutter, the equally exhausting battle trying to remove the drinking straw from the stringing hole, and the fact it is too thick, too dark and FULL of bubbles, I think I like it :D

And that's 1 piece of jewellery down, 14 to go, yay. I can now go and update my progress bar :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Challenging myself.....

I was pootling about with my blog today - and I added these cool javascript progress bars to my side bar.

As I calculated the percentage complete for the two circle journals I'm involved in, I realised that in a few short months they will both be finished, and I will really miss them...

I don't get involved in lots of swaps nowadays, after getting a little bored with ATCs, and taking on a big fat book swap that really got too much for me last year, but I do love my CJs, which I have been doing non stop now for nearly 4 years.

Instead of signing up for two more to kick in as soon as these two run out, however, which is what I would usually do...I've decided to fill my very limited art/craft time with stuff just for me instead.

I know I need some structure, though, and targets to hit and/or deadlines to meet, or things just won't get done.... so this is what I have come up with:

  • 15 pieces of jewellery in 2008
  • a page in my (yet to be started) art journal weekly
  • take part in every remaining GPP Street Team crusade between now and the end of the year
  • sign up to one low pressure swap/collaboration (ie no more than one to be running concurrently) because otherwise I wouldn't get to see other people's work close up, which I would miss very much

So - that's the plan, to be reviewed at the end of the year....what do you think? I know it doesn't look like much, but I don't have much free time, and I am a slooooooow worker :)

Off to set up the progress bars now for my new challenges.... exciting stuff...

You pay for the whole seat, but you'll only need the edge...

It’s taken me a week or so to really get into it after the disappointment of Vancouver so narrowly missing out on the post-season…….but I knew it would get to me in the end.

It’s now well and truly edge-of-the-seat hockey time for me….especially with both my adopted teams – Washington in the East and the Flames in the West – pushing their better-on-paper opponents to game 7 in their respective first round series in the Stanley Cup playoffs – and the Moose just starting out in their attempt to lift the Calder.

I am a little bleary eyed this morning after staying up last night to watch the Boston/ Montreal G7 – the atmosphere at that game was electric, but I felt sorry for the Bruins, looks like their run couldn’t last. And I was simultaneously listening to the game I was much more interested in last night…. my favourite Eastern team – Ovie’s Caps – vs my least favourite team in the entire league – the Flyers – booooooo!!!!

I wish this one had been televised too. I’ve watched the highlights online and it looks like a brilliant game. My heart was sinking when we were sitting at 2-0 down midway through the 2nd… Philly only needed to defend their lead and that was the fairytale over for the Capitals. But by the end of the 2nd the score had evened up, and I reckon Katja blew Ovie a kiss in the 2nd intermission because he was on fire in the 3rd, sealing the Flyers’ fate, and sending them back to DC for G7 – COME ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And the Flames hope to finish off the Sharks tonight down in San Jose – good luck boys – win it for Connor!

I’m also keeping a little eye on the South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL - they could have swept their best of 5 series against the Gwinnett Gladiators last night, but it wasn’t to be. Let’s hope they get better luck in G4.

Poor taste? Sure...... Brilliant? Absolutely! (apart from the bits about poor Markus)

Monday, April 21, 2008

I had a fab birthday :)

I can't in all honesty say it started off too well. I was sulking because I had no pressies, and my eldest son didn't even get me a card, humph.

The little'un hadn't got/made me one either - you wouldn't think it would be too much to ask of his dad (my ex) to make sure his son gave his mother a birthday card, would you? Especially since he babysat him for hours in my house which is FULL of card making stuff!!!! I always make sure that Connor makes HIM a card, and either makes or buys him a little present. Maybe I won't bother next year.

And I had seen Ian on Friday but he hadn't brought my birthday stuff down 'cos he said he thought it was the following weekend.

So I moped about a bit, and then drove up to Coventry to see my bessie Alison.

There's nothing like visiting a close friend seriously ill in hospital to get your priorities back in order, and so I quickly stopped feeling sorry for myself about lack of pressies and felt bloody grateful for my health instead.

Shortly after I got home, yeah you guessed it (you are WAY ahead of me!), I had a surprise visitor from sunny Southampton :)

Ian hadn't forgotten my birthday after all, he just wanted me to think he had so he could turn up unannounced, laden with gifts and CAKE, and decorate the house with happy birthday banners, and basically make a HUGE fuss of me :)

I thoroughly enjoyed being pampered, I could SO get used to this :)

(oh - and both the Caps and Flames won! another birthday treat for me :) :) :) Pity about the Ducks though - another year maybe Todders)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My sides hurt!

Copied word for word from SportSquee - THE funniest blog on the web bar none! (Well, if you like hockey anyway :) )

This cheered me up totally on what, so far, is not the best birthday ever, so thank you Margee :)

Fly on the Wall: HandshakeGate

Did you really think the far-reaching microphones of SportSquee would not be somehow attached to Marty Brodeur and Sean Avery for Game 5 of the Rangers-Devils series? Come on, now. You know us better than that. Here is a partial transcript of the handshake that wasn't.

(Center Ice, The Rock, Post-game, Rangers line)

Brendan Shanahan: Come on, guys, we have to shake hands. Sportsmanship!
Sean Avery: Sports-man-wuh? I recognize some of the words you're saying as English, but...
Chris Drury: Just follow your captain... Captain CLUTCH!
Jaromir Jagr: I am captain, not furry Smurf-person. Team follows Jagr. My apple cheeks will lead way to shaking of hands.
CD: We could follow you, Puff Nuts, but wouldn't the team rather follow the man who has 15 game-winning playoff goals? I mean, you probably don't have any. No one calls you Captain CLUTCH, do they?
Jagr: I have 14, furry Smurf-person. Fall in.
Drury:Whatever. I'll walk behind you, so everyone else will be following Captain CLUTCH!
Marc Staal: I hate these guys.
Avery: I'm still confused. What are we doing again? Scott, what is this?
Scott Gomez: I think we're checking their pulses to see if they're alive. Puff Nuts and the fuzzy dude seem to be going for the wrist. Hollweg, do you know what this is about?
Ryan Hollweg: (series of gorilla noises and flinging of poo)
Staal: Maybe I could get traded in the off-season.
Shanahan: Sportsmanship!

(Center Ice, The Rock, Devils Line)
Jamie Langenbrunner: Fall in. Gather 'round me. Elias and I have talked about this, we're prepared.
Patrik Elias: Everyone, hack up the biggest loogie and spit it all over your hands.
Langenbrunner: That'll learn 'em for messing with the Devils!
John Madden: That's our strategy? Loogies?
Elias: Prank of the century!
Zach Parise: I'm not going to say "good job." I'm just going to say "Egg." Egg... Egg... Egg...
Travis Zajac: That's a great idea! I'll just say "Bacon." Bacon...bacon...bacon...
Jay Pandolfo: What about sportsmanship? Sportsmanship, you guys.
Mike Rupp: Pando's right. I'm going to put my hand between my butt cheeks.
John Madden: Ah, the Swedish Hello. I like it.
Johnny Oduya: I don't appreciate that.
Brian Gionta: Marty, you probably aren't sweaty at all. You can put your hands between my butt cheeks if you want.
Marty Brodeur: I'm good. I have something up my sleeve.
Parise: You should say "Ham." Ham... ham...ham...
Zajac: Or "Bagel." Bagel... bagel... bagel...
Brodeur: No. I'm going to hold my hand out and when he goes to grab it, I'm going to pull it away and be like, SIKE! Maybe do an umpire dance. You know, "Siiiiike!"
Zajac: Dude. That is low.
Langenbrunner: I can't believe you.
Pandolfo: Where is the sportsmanship?
Brodeur: You've got the Bacon Brothers over there, Elias was going to give them his Hep spit, and you were going to give them a Swedish Hello!
Oduya: I don't appreciate that.
Parise: Yeah, but we were still going to shake their hands!
Elias: What kind of man are you?
Brodeur: Man? I am no man. I am no mere man! I am Marty fucking Brodeur!
Langenbrunner: Well, you were once.
Elias: Come on, we've got germs to spread.
Pandolfo: Come on, guys! Let's show them some sportsmanship!

(Center Ice, Both Teams)

Jagr: Good job... good job... nice work... good job...
Langenbrunner: Good series... good series... fine work...nice job...
Elias: Be sure to lick your palm after the game... be sure to lick your hand after the game...
Drury: Captain CLUTCH...Captain CLUTCH...Captain CLUTCH... Captain CLUTCH...
Pandolfo: Sportsmanship!...Sportsmanship!...
Shanahan: Sportsmanship!... Sportsmanship!...
Parise: Egg...egg...egg...
M. Staal: Good job... good job... good job...
Zajac: Bacon...bacon...bacon...
Avery: Fuck you... fuck you... I boned your sister...fuck you...
Brodeur: (to himself) Alright, Marty, this is it. You have to time a Sike! just right. Look away, like you don't care about him, hold your hand out... and...
Avery: Fuck you...
Brodeur: (to himself) Wait for it... Wait for it... Now! Do it, Marty! Do it!
Hollweg: Eat me... eat me...
Brodeur: (to himself) Crap, I missed my chance! Damn you! Damn you, poor comedic timing!
Gomez: Suck it... suck it... suck it...
Brodeur: Whatever. Bagel... Bagel... Bagel...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

H is for Hockey

You know how sometimes you have a vague idea for a page, a layout, a canvas, a piece of jewellery, whatever.....and in your mind it really works....

And when you actually MAKE it, it looks crap :)

I have had SO many of those.

I am deleriously happy to report that for once, this one has gone the other way. It has turned out even better than I imagined it, and I am a chuffed chipmunk :)

This is the (let me count on my fingers, A...B...C...D...E...F...G...H...) 8th entry in my A-Z journal, a new entry every fortnight, where I choose a word for each letter of the alphabet that sums me up. Something for me to look back on in years to come and remember all the things that defined me in 2008. I've never really been one for the whole "book of me" thing (too shy), but this concept I can work with.

Anyway - H - had to be hockey, really, didn't it :)

The background of this page was made from bits of pages from Powerplay magazine - which is kind of the UK equivalent of the Hockey News. I made sure you could see SWINDON WILDCATS clearly up in the top left hand corner ;)

The torn snippets were glued onto the page with soft gel medium. Once the medium was dry I made a red stripe across the background by putting parallel strips of masking tape across the page and applying red chalk ink direct-to-paper between the tapes.

Then I used an old credit card to spread a thin layer of gesso over the top of the papers and red stripe (the centre line), and once that was dry I sprayed the whole page with a suspension of pearl and interference blue perfect pearls in water. That gave the page the look and feel of a game-ready ice surface. To finish the effect off I added some skate scratches into the "ice", by swiping the edge of the old credit card into pale blue metallic lumiere paint, and stonewashed dye ink, and then dragging the card along the surface of the page at varying angles.

The overlying silhouette of the hockey player was made with the stencil I cut earlier (see previous blog post). I blended purple, blue and black distress inks through the stencil, with cut and dry foam. I love the way the skate scratches show through the silhouette.

And as for the general sentiment of the page? This game means SO much to me. It gives me every emotion from euphoria through to utter despondency and despair. I HATE the off season. Roll on September!!!!

Tons of fun with my first stencil

I have been playing along with Michelle Ward's GPP Street Team crusades off and on (recently more off than on :( ) since they started, and I do so wish I had the time to join in every month.

Last month the challenge was to carve your own rubber stamps, and I really wanted to have a go at that one, but Canada kind of got in the way.

So I was determined not to miss out on this month's challenge - which is to design and cut (and of course use!) a stencil.

My arty time is pretty limited, so I needed to tie this in with something else that needed doing - and the H page of my A-Z journal is due........ so an H for Hockey stencil had to be the answer :)

I traced the outline of a hockey player onto acetate (I just used a standard inkjet transparency as I didn't have any proper stencilly stuff), and cut him out with a craft knife.

I was careful to cut him out all in one go so I would also have a mask to use.

I haven't finished my actual journal page yet, but here are a few experiments with both the stencil and the mask:

First attempt with stencil - sprayed with Ranger colorwash. Ooops!!!! That didn't go quite to plan lol

I quite like the impression left on the paper towel I used to clean it up though :)

While the stencil was drying I had a go with the mask...

Stippled with pigment ink (I like this effect):

Black card, with white pigment ink spread outwards around the mask with a make up sponge (and this one :) ):

And then afterwards I had another go with the stencil - this time using distress inks applied with cut and dry foam (rather haphazardly):

I like that last one the best of all, and might use something similar on my journal page.

Thanks, Michelle, for giving me the opportunity and incentive to try something new. I will DEFINITELY be making more of these!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Fiver - 18th April

1. What is heaven?

Everyone happy and healthy, and the Stanley Cup in Vancouver

2. What is older than you?

The man in my life :) Makes a nice change - trust me, toyboys are nothing but trouble!

3. Where do you belong?

I think I've settled in Swindon pretty well now - more than I ever felt settled anywhere else - so I'll say right here

4. Who is no longer a stranger to you?

Ummm....everyone I know now who I didn't used to???

5. Friday fill-in:
I hear ____.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Boing boing boing

The kids (Darby, his girlie Beth, and Cons) had fun today on the trampoline, and I attempted to get some half decent photos of them, but ended up with about 30 shots of feet or hair :) And most of the others came out really dark. My own fault, should have shot them in RAW.

These were the salvageable ones:

This was Darby's attempt to stop the paparazzi :D

Didn't work though, I still caught them having a smooch, awwwwwww