Friday, 25 June 2010

We'll always have Paris

Not too long ago I passed the YMCA charity shop in my local town and they had a frame in the window for £2.  It was one of those awful ones (apologies to anyone who has one and loves it) that people used to have in their bathrooms.  It had a wooden frame behind the glass that was used as shelves to have tiny bales of towels and toilet rolls on.  It was a bit like a miniature version of a bathroom.

When I asked to see it, the guy in the shop showed it to me like a fine bottle of wine.  You shoulda seen his face when I told him I wasn't bothered about the front, but turned it over to look at the back to see if I could take it to bits.  Once we got home, my Mam and I wasted no time in ripping into it.  My Mam had to get a screwdriver to the glue under the little ornaments to prise them loose.  Far to dangerous in my hands!!

I'm gutted I didn't take a photo of it in its pre-enhanced state!

I didn't bother sanding the frame or gessoing it as it had been painted with a matte paint.  I used a Stewart Gill Byzantia paint in a blue (the name has come off the lid so no help with the name) and painted 2 coats.  I then used a Stewart Gill Alchemy (same thing with the lid) over the top and accidentally rubbed a little of the paint off while trying the move the frame.  It must've been serendipity as the result was a little of the pinky-peach colour that the frame was originally showed through.  I quickly rubbed some more off before the paint dried!

I painted the wooden frame insert with silver Stewart Gill paint as I wanted it to show off what was in the compartments not fight against them.

I had a bought a miniature Eiffel Tower for 50p in the infamous ex-catalogue shop where I got the mannequins.  I decided the turn the wooden frame so the 'shelves' were vertical and placed the little tower in one of the compartments.  I then borrowed Jo's Paris Postcard stamp plate by Elusive Images part of Graphicus and stamped the cathedral onto acetate before putting variegated metal leaf behind it.  I bent it to fit into the other compartment.

For the background which is attached to the board at the back of the wooden insert frame, I used a piece of paper that came in a Graphicus Guild paper pack.  I creased the paper slightly before sanding it and using a Distress Ink in Vintage Photo.  I spritzed some water onto it too before attaching it to the board.

The glass at the front of the overall frame had to be thoroughly cleaned before I stamped a couple of swirls by Creative Expressions on in Timber Brown Stazon just to take the 'starkness' of the glass away.

Once I had assembled the frame I had to tape the back board to the wooden frame insert and use silicone glue to glue the insert to the larger frame.  It took an awful lot doing, strength not being my 'strong' point (LOL!!!) and then I had to leave this overnight to dry. 

I wanted something on the front of the frame, but not words, so I used a technique I learned from Lynn at Graphicus.  I took 3 Prima white flowers in complimentary sizes and sprayed them Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist in Tattered Leather.  I dried each of them thoroughly with a heat tool before patting them with a Versamark ink pad.  I sprinkled platinum UTEE over the flowers and used a heat tool to set the UTEE.  The result is a flower that looks like metal.

And this is the completed frame.  Sorry the photo's not great but glass tends to reflect!!

It looks really gorgeous with light shining on it (even if I do say so myself LOL!!!)

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Tara's poorly paw

And how bad do I feel that I didn't notice sooner???

Tara has claws that seem to grow at the speed of light and cutting them is an absolute nightmare.  She is skinny and therefore VERY squirmy.  To cut her claws I need my Dad to hold her under her arms put her back paws on top of the cooker (don't worry the cooker has a cover!).  Then I have to try and cut them with her growling and hissing and squirming and biting.  Last time was particularly bad and although I thought I'd seen a long claw, I thought I'd gotten them all trimmed, but no.  There was a l-o-n-g claw and last night I finally got a look at her paw while she was asleep and it had curled round into the pad of her paw.

So took her to the kitty doc today and he trimmed all her claws and gave her and antibiotic injection and sprayed a local anesthetic on her paw and sorted that out too.  Gotta take her back on Thursday for another antibiotic injection.  She won't tolerate me giving her anything at home! 

Now I've got her home and she has just mewed since she got in.  It actually sounds like she's saying 'ow'.  Mind I bet it hurt bless her.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Klimt inspired necklace

A couple of years ago Graphicus released 4 DL plates of baubles for Christmas.  I loved them all, but was really torn by the Rennie Mackintosh inspired one and the Klimt inspired ones.  Jo bought them all so I just used hers.  As soon as I saw the Klimt ones I knew I wanted to make a necklace with them.

I first stamped each bauble onto sanded clear shrink plastic using black Stazon, then punched a hole in the top of each one using a Crop-a-dile before shrinking them with a heat tool.Once they were shrunk I stuck them to a sheet of double sided adhesive and cut them out.  I re-opened the hole by putting the tip of a pokey tool through it (be very careful here as I managed to poke myself in the finger LOL!!!). 
 Once that was done I took the backing off and put variegate metal leaf (don't know what colourway it was) on the back and sealed it with a varnish before putting jump rings through each hole and putting it onto a cord.

Sorry the photo's not too good.  The flash bounced off the metal leaf (note to self - take photos of objects with metal leaf in daylight!!)

Monday, 14 June 2010


I've developed a passion for wire mannequins.  I do believe I have Lynn (from Graphicus) to blame for this.  In the shop she displays her art work on various wire mannequins and now I can't get enough of them.

So imagine my glee when I spotted this little beauty in an ex-catalogue shop in my local home town.  I had to buy 3 of them; one each for me, Jo (my best mate) and of course Lynn.  The skirt has a little door in the back so it opens like a bird cage.  Apparently they're meant to be jewellery organisers, but not for us!!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Graphicus Open Days

I had a VERY tiring but VERY inspiring day yesterday at Graphicus in Barnard Castle.  Graphicus is a wonderful craft shop which is very simply Crafting Heaven.  As it was an Open Day there were lots of demonstrations going on and I sort hopped between them all. 

Firstly there was Glenda Waterworth who owns Graphicus showing off their new Mermaid stamp plates and she was doing some absolutely AMAZING colouring with the Copic Ciao markers. 
Here are some of the wonderful samples Glenda made yesterday.

This is Lynn Robinson-Hunter.  She usually does loads of Ranger techniques on tags using distress inks.  However yesterday she was amazing people with an image transfer technique using Claudine Hellmuth Sticky Back canvas.
Lynn places the sticky back canvas on to the front of the image.  Yes you read right.  It covers the image completely.  Then you burnish it and spritz the paper and rub it off the back of the canvas.  It is quite relaxing doing this or watching someone else doing it!

She was also doing a lot with beeswax.  This technique is wonderful!!!  If you'd like to know more about this technique there is a workshop running at Graphicus on Thursday 22nd July.  Details are available on the Graphicus websiteJust go to the tab on the left marked 'Book a workshop'.  These are pictures of the book boards that she made yesterday and Friday. Something along these lines will be made at the workshop. Please come along!

Lesley Wharton was also there doing demonstrations using Clarity Stamps and techniques as well as the new CD (which is gorgeous!!).  She was also using the new Mermaid stamps.

Judith Walton was demonstrating the Ranger Melt Pot using Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel (UTEE) to make jewellery.  She was using molds made with Mold 'n' Pour and filling them with UTEE and that is how the key was made in the picture.
It was a brilliant day, but I am paying for it now as I am exhausted.  I've been in bed all day and my legs are really hurting even though Graphicus kindly gave me a chair at each demo.  A big thanks to David for providing the food (and my extras for my tea!) and Carrie for giving me a lift there and back!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Fake Tan

Now I just know you're all cringing thinking of being invaded by tall oompahlumpaha-like beings who are just as orange, but no I am dead careful about how much I use.  I like to look 'healthy' rather than my favourite colour of the rainbow (orange for the uninitiated).

I used to use Olay's Everyday Sun (or whatever its called) but its become increasingly hard to find and you had to buy separate body and face versions mounting the cost up.  So this year I thought I'd look for a new one.  Walked into Superdrug to find their new range (at least I think its new) of self tanners for £7, plus they were buy one get one free.  Well who could resist?!  Certainly not me.  And it does your face and body!  Also they had an application mitt for £3 which it said would help you put it on smoothly with no streaks, so I was sold!

I first used it on Saturday night and much to my amazement the mitt worked, and the tanner has a 'guide' colour' in it that gives you a tan straight away so you can see were you've missed, and because I used the mitt there was no need to wash my hands straight away as my palms weren't covered.  Genius!

I washed off the excess after 4 hours as the instructions said and I have a lovely golden tan.  I'm so pleased I was cautious and got the light / medium option.  It worked like a dream. 

And now I look healthy!!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Raindrops on roses......

Well not exactly on roses.  I've been out in my garden in between rain showers and have taken some photos of the leaves with rain on them.  I just love the way some leaves and plants retain the rain water in wonderful droplets.

I suppose I should show you some whiskers on kittens to finish the theme off!

This Martha who was 16 when I had to let her go a couple of weeks ago.  She'd had a great life as an indoor kitty.

And this is Tara who is 17 and still going strong.  Although her and Martha didn't get on at all, she still looks for her and has even picked up some of her traits.  Very, very weird!!
Its started to bucket down here again. Oh the joy of the British summertime!!!!

Monday, 7 June 2010

The big 'D'

As many of you know I have MS and with that can come depression (the big D).  I have been suffering from depression for a few years but it came back with a vengence last year.  Its been under control, but at the moment it seems to have reared its ugly head again.  I am seeing a wonderful counsellor who has really helped me put things into perspective.

One thing that has really helped is art journaling.  Lynn (from Graphicus in Barnard Castle) showed me all about it last year and told me how much it has helped other people with depression.  So I set about giving it a try.

This is one of the first pages I did.  I started off writing everything down about how I was feeling.  I then gessoed over that.  It took a few coats of gesso to obliterate the words.  I didn't want them to be completely obliterated as I still wanted to see some peeking through.  I then used black chalk to scribble over the top randomly and used a tissue to rub it in a little.  The 'what lies beneath' wording and maze were both from magazines.  Most of the stamps are Tim Holtz, stamped in versamark then embossed in black.  I wrote words over the top to express how I was feeling.

I found doing this page VERY cathartic and although the big D is back, its nowhere near as bad and this page shows me how far I've come.  I feel that because I wrote out my feelings and covered all the bad stuff up, I can move on without that weighing me down.

Art journaling can be done in any kind of book or just on paper.  Its only for you to see so it doesn't matter what it looks like.  I've only posted this on here in case someone who may need a little help uses the idea.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Creative Road Canvas

I decided I wanted a large canvas to go on the chimney breast wall above my bed.  I got a 27" x 19" canvas to paint.  I knew I wanted to put smaller canvases onto it and decorate them.

I began by putting shades of orange, red and yellow Lumin Arte Radiant Rain  onto the canvas in 3 curved stripes.  This didn't work, so I pained over the whole thing with the same orange as I had used originally.  Unfortunately it didn't cover the red very well, so I used a Stewart Gill colourise in orange and roughly smooshed that over the top.  Then I sprayed Sticky Fingers Fireworks Orange over random portions of the canvas.

Happy with the overall effect, I realised that the colour was almost the same as my bedroom walls and it would just sink into them rather than stand out!  So I hand painted (eek!!!) a frame around the edge of the canvas in a blue Stewart Gill Byzantia paint.  The colour labels have come off the lids of most of my Stewart Gill paints so I don't know their names!!

I got my smaller canvases and placed them onto the larger one to get the placement and sizing right before I painted them - 2 in green Byazantia, 3 in blue Byzantia and 1 in a lighter shade of orange (can't remember what!).

This smaller canvas (left) was the orange one and I made some basic Grungebord flower.  I drew a flower to use as a template onto paper before cutting it out and drawing round on the Grungebord.  I painted them in shades of purple before assembling and using an aqua coloured bedazzles for the centres.  The stems are Grungebord too.

This canvas on the right was done by stamping Paperartsy stamps onto Ten Seconds Studio (TSS) metal in Periwinkle and Appletini using black Stazon.  I then put an Humungo adhesive sheet onto the back of the metal and put it onto cardboard.  The sheet provides a kind of 'cushion' for you to using an embossing tool to go around the stamped lines.  You have to do this before it is cut out as some of the lines are the outside of the image.  I cut it our and used Glossy Accents to stick it to the canvas and had some pieces over the edge to add interest to the overall effect.

This canvas (left) was painted green and I applied a small glittered rub-on of an angel to it with some effort.  The rub-on did not want to stick to the canvas, but I managed with a little perseverance.  It looked too pristine so I distressed using a Tim Holtz Craft Scratcher to scratch pieces of it off.  Then I put a acetate frame from Tattered Angels around the small canvas to finish it off.

All of the other green and blue painted canvases were decorated with TSS metal using the same technique as above using the same colour metals to tie it all together.

So if you're still with me after reading that l-o-n-g post, here is your reward - the finished canvas which has pride of place on my wall!

Hope you've enjoyed this little look at my art.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Treatment Day!!!

Been for treatment today and met up with the lovely Justine and equally lovely Angela (gotta say that cos they follow this blog LOL!!!). I always look forward to treatment days as I generally feel better after them.

The Royal Victory Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle where we have treatment once a month for MS is being modernised and all the wards are being moved around. So we had a nice little jaunt to a different part of the hospital and we have to ring up before we leave home next time to see where we'll be treated.

The treatment takes about a couple of hours but can be less if they can get the cannula in first try, which is a miracle for me if they can. Then we're hooked up to pumps which run an infusion of an MS drug direct into our veins. Once that bag has finished they hang another bag, this time of saline, and that clears all of the MS drug left in the tube connected to the pump, into us. Then we're released into an unsuspecting world. I always walk a little better after my infusion and gives me a lot more energy, but it generally only last for 3 weeks and the week before my next infusion I call my 'down' week.

Although it gives me more energy I still don't feel as 'normal' as I should. I still have problems with walking (I walk with a stick sometimes crutches), still have fatigue which hits like a ton of bricks and can fell you for days, still can't feel parts of my body, just the usual MSy things!

Having said all of that its not so bad. You just have to think as positively as you can and take each day as it comes. I always say I have MS. MS doesn't have me!!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

New specs

Apologies for the previous rant!!

I recently had to go to the opticians as my eyes were causing me problems with close vision. They suggested varifocals which I duly ordered and started to wear. All was fine til I went out shopping in Hexham. Slightly unfamiliar territory sent my senses into overdrive when i was faced with some stairs. You see with the MS I'm never 100% sure where my feet are and tend to have to look down to make sure I know where I'm stepping. Consequently going downstairs caused a BIG problem. When I was looking down to see where my feet were, I was looking through the reading part of the specs meaning everything was blurred. Very dangerous for someone in my position, so I've had to resort to distance specs and a pair for reading and craft work.

But...I was so in love with the frames I had chosen I HAD to get them made into just distance specs and used a pair of frames I already had to use as reading glasses.

So these are my new specs. For those of you who know me, they're totally me, don't ya think?!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Another try at this blogging lark.

Well here I am on Blogger. Couldn't get comfy on Wordpress, or rather Wordpress wasn't comfy with me!! I was having major bother just trying to open the blog never mind editing or posting anything.

I will attempt to migrate stuff across. Failing all else I'll just retype everything.

To make matters worse I thought it was my PC that was causing the bother so I restored it factory settings. Now I'm having problems with my e-mail as the disc they send out with O2 broadband isn't compatible with Windows 7. Oh joy! There is a way I can set it up manually, but the thought is just sending me loopy. Think I'd best wait for the new disc coming. I can get my e-mails thru O2's homepage so I'll do that til the disc arrives.

Anyhoo thats me for now. Need a lie down after all this PC stuff....