Sunday, 29 January 2012

A little vintage musing

Today while helping my mother sort through her collection of boxes I came across a little round wooden box with a slightly damaged label on the lid.  She didn't say how old it was when she gave it to me to treasure but as it is for No 4 BOOT BUTTONS I think it must belong to the beginning of the last century.  It is such a lovely little thing, I really seem to be developing a taste for vintage items.  She recently gave me several old wooden cotton reels and some other haberdashery items (not to use but to photograph so I can use the images).
I was a little stunned the other day when I realised that my carefully chosen collection of buttons quite likely counts as vintage - these are things that I purchased brand new, not that many years ago.  Surely I am not that old yet.  Does this mean that dressmaking patterns that I got in my early twenties are vintage? At that time I was using a little semi-antique shop (most of the things for sale were antique but not everything) to buy mother of pearl buttons, hat pins and diamante costume jewellery - when I could afford it. The things I was buying there I would have called vintage then.  Many of my Mother's fantastic collection of goodies could be classed as vintage.  Can anyone tell me how old things have to be before a vintage tag should be put on them?

I am also now the owner of a beautiful old fashioned glass jelly mould that I purchased today for the vast sum of one pound sterling.  At some point over the weekend I will be making a jelly.  

Just put the finishing touches to my first fimo "gingerbread fairings" and true to tradition I have gilded my gingerbread - with glitter and faux gemstones.  The glass mirrors have been cleaned and glued into place and the ribbon hangers have been threaded through the hole cut for them.  They are so gloriously glitzy.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Very sad news in the papers yesterday about the death of a man who had reopened on of my favourite childhood places in Canterbury. Mr Charles Lambie had the vision and drive to re-open the Westgate Towers and make them a popular tourist attraction again and I have heard very good things about the cafe/restaurant that is based at the towers.

I am sorry to hear of his death and now worried about what will happen to the Westgate now.

As children we often went to Canterbury and when we went there were several regular ports of call :- the Cathedral, the museum in Canterbury library and the Westgate Tower with its gardens.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


My first paper mache bag is now nearly finished.

I have now worked out a kind of production line for the bags so as one reaches the finishing stage I have one off the mould having the final layers put on and another one on the mould in the begin stages.  I am not sure how long the mould will last for a while I hope because I am having so much fun making these bags.  My only problem at the now is how to do the linings for the bags - I know I want some kind of fastening to make the contents a little more secure but I am undecided on the finish.  So I have a perfectly good bag that I am unable to decorate because I just cannot make up my mind,  I even have a lining cut out and pinned together.  I need to get this sorted because I am going out on Saturday night and could take a finished bag with me to show people.

The last time I did anything with paper mache was about twenty years ago when I made a Romanesque style breast plate for a fancy dress party I was going to.  I don't know why I have ignored it as a craft for so long, it is such a useful medium.

Inspired by THE GOOD MASTER by Kate Seredy I have made these little fimo hearts.  I loved the book as a child, often reading it.  There is one part of the story where Kate and her cousin get taken to a travelling fair and are looking at GINGERBREAD FAIRINGS - shapes made out of gingerbread, hearts with mirrors in them in this case.  I always thought how pretty and wanting to go further after my yummy gingerbread at Christmas I decided to make some fairings.  From there the idea of fimo hearts developed.

Today on my TWITTER feed there was a tweet and a link to LADY GAGA.  I have never heard any of her music and much in the spirit of cannot criticise Barbara Cartland without reading her I thought I ought to see why Lady Gaga is so popular.   I am so glad I did.
The first track I listened to was Marry the Night - liked that  
Born this Way - liked that.  Then I watched a couple of interviews - end result I am very glad to have found her. 

Saturday, 21 January 2012


I have spent the day switching between giving the kitchen a much needed deep clean and making Paper Mache Bags/Purses for my Etsy shop.  The house work isn't as bad as I thought it would be and making the bags is great fun.  It has worked quite well as a duel task -  Put on a layer of paper mache and go and do some cleaning while that layer drys.  Now I have one bag ready to put the lining into and one ready for the handles.

By the end of today should be able to decorate the first one.  I am really looking forward to doing this part, yesterday morning I knew how I wanted to decorate it and have been waiting to do it ever since.  The handles have worked out well.  I can see me being very pleased with the result.  There will be pictures.

This was a milestone week for me as I made my first sale on Etsy.  It has taken a long time.  I have just printed some tips on improving my Etsy shop - my bedtime reading tonight. 

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Back to work

It was back to work today after a week off.  A week in January with mild sunny days.  Whenever I talk about my time off and holidays I always go on about the beautiful places we have been to etc etc.  But there is one place we go to every time we have a break - the local recycling centre/rubbish dump.  It really is every time without fail I am beginning to feel that it wouldn't be a holiday if we didn't go.

I was rather busy yesterday so I didn't get to do anymore on the decopatch cat, Apart from choosing the eyes - I found a pair of blue eyes and a cat nose which were the right size in my box of assorted eyes etc for teddy bears and other soft toys.  I cut the backs off the eyes and the nose so they are ready to use.

This evening I made a couple more lavendar sachets - empty ones so there would be no issues with export.  Because they need to be filled later I have put a fastener on the back and a button for decoration.

 This is a link to a treasury I have made on Etsy.  I love making treasuries mostly because I really like looking a beautiful things.  It is very inspiring looking at the work other people are doing.

A couple of days ago we went to the City of Canterbury and took a walk in Westgate Gardens, as it is winter the shapes of the trees can be seen - I like trees.,_Canterbury

As a child I was often taken to the Westgate Museum (which is now open again) and to the gardens by the river Stour.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

A Happy crafting day

The decopatch cat was completely covered really quickly and this morning when the glue was properly dry I could have a proper look at it.  There is one little bit on the front of the face where the paper has folded over that needs to have another small piece of paper put over it and a couple of places where the paper is lifting slightly - a dab of glue will sort that out.  Then I have to decide how to do the eyes, I am leaning towards cutting the backs off some soft toy cats eyes and gluing them on.  I am very impressed with how the leopard print paper looks - as though it is all one piece.

OK I am now hooked on decopatch and want to do more.

I put another couple of layers on the paper mache bag.  I have chosen the ribbons for the handle and the overall design is now firmly fixed in  my head.  I will put another layer of paper on the bag before work tomorrow.  Then I can start the handles tomorrow evening.

 I got two nearly finished items completed today and listed them on Etsy.

This is the first one - a decorated bar of soap.

I can remember being given these as a child by two Aunts.  Not very safe things to give a child as the decorations were held on by pins.  I have stayed true to my childhood memories and done the same. 

Decorated soaps must have been quite in vogue in the early sixties and late fifties because I also had a moulded soap in the shape of a spaniel. I had it for many years until it got chipped durring a move.
The other item is a glass bottle pendant.  With its braided ribbons lace and beads and the teeny shells and pebble in the bottle it evokes seashore memories.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Craft Robo, Decopatch and Me

Have spent a couple of hours fighting with the Craft Robo.  I know that from the UK Scrappers forum I can download pretty much any design I want.  But that really isn't the point.  I want to be able to do it.  I do not think that I am particularly stupid and I think that I can usually find my way around crafting software programs reasonably well.  But this is driving me nuts.  Nuts that I will crack and produce things I am proud of that are my work.

lets just call it a step in the right direction
I managed to get the butterfly shape how I wanted it and copied it to make a smaller one to go inside so I can cut out a shell.  The lattice work is a nightmare.  My partner ( who brought the thing for me) thinks there has to be a repeat tool somewhere in the program - I haven't found it yet.  At the moment it is a case of putting each hole of the lattice in individually and then welding it together.

I still think that it will be the most versatile and flexible cutting system as you are not limited to preset cartridges it is just the learning curve.  I do not remember ever being this proud of something that I have made that is such utter rubbish
the only way from here is up and I will win.

so much fun to do
To reward myself for perseveringly with the Craft Robo I have begun the decopatch cat that I was given for Christmas.     
a link to clear instructions on how to do decopatch ( its a shop as well)

The decopatch is so enjoyable that I don't know why I have never tried it before.

 This reminded me that I wanted to make little paper mache bags/purses.
So I have begun one.
First layer of paper put on.  I think I have worked out a way of attaching the handles into the paper mache which will give the whole thing strength - nothing worse than your handles coming off.

Friday, 13 January 2012


I now have so much sea glass that I thought I would try my nieces idea.  With the bag she collected she was going to do some Mosaic on a tea light holder.  That sounded like a lovely idea - the flame flickering through the different shades and colours.

not a very good drawing but good enough
my seahorse
putting on the clear glass

First I drew a very rough outline of a seahorse on a piece of paper cut to size.
Then I placed green glass on it, rearranging till I was happy with the design.
Using superglue gel I fixed the sea glass to the tea light holder one piece at a time following my design.
Then I covered the rest of the tea light holder with clear glass - with a few thin lines of green to look like seaweed.

My first piece of Mosaic - a shame that it wasn't on my list of crafts to try.

With some teeny tiny shells and a couple of slithers of sea glass ( the bits that you would think are far to small to use on anything) I have made a really pretty phone charm and another glass charm pendant.  I will be listing the pendant on Etsy later.  I am not sure what I want to do with the phone charm yet.

It was a chilly start to the day so we lit the fire early while we made up our minds what we were going to do.
Lunch in Broadstairs was the decision and a very good one it was.  A very nice lunch followed by a walk along the sea wall at Stone Bay.
As the walk was a post lunch thought we hadn't got cameras with us so these were taken with my phone.  I did change the settings to sport which probably helped.
It was lovely to come home to a cozy house after walking along the shore.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

SERIF CRAFT ARTIST continuing the learning curve

Next step through the manual was about text.  Not just the many different alphabets that come with the digikits but transforming standard text.  Again it took a couple of goes to get the hang of it but the manual is very clear and having managed the photo editing it took less time to get the desired results.  I particularly liked the tool for smoothing a line.  My drawing on a computer is not that wonderful.  I draw a raggedy line press a button a couple of times and have exactly what I want. 
Converting text from being on a straight line to a curve - easy.  I found that I got better results if I put a space between each letter.
As I have a birthday coming up it seemed sense to design a card while I was learning.

Today  I brought a needle felting tool so closer to item one on my plan for 2012.

Trip to the warren and a huge haul of seaglass

carpet of Harts tongue fern

november sunshine in the woods
Yesterday I made my second attempt to get to a little bit of woodland at the bottom of the cliff at Capel-le-ferne near Folkestone.  The first time I tried going down the cliff - there is a zigzag path that takes you down.  I was fine to start with as there were some trees on the seaside of the path, then they stopped and I could sea the drop, so I bottled it and went back.  On to try two. Walk along the path at the bottom cliff, much much easier, what could go wrong.  This was not the sucess I had hoped for.  We walked miles to get to the right place then had to climb some chopped into the side of a hill steps - not as high as the cliff but still quite steep. I still have not managed to get to these woods.  I am sure that my fear of heights has got worse over the years, although it has always been a problem. I am determind to get to these woods - not sure how.  But I hope it will be worth it.  

still couldnt do it
Next time round I will be with them

After that major failure I found a little patch of pebble beach and right away saw several peices of seaglass.  By the time my friends had caught up with me I had already found about twenty pieces.  We even had a lady who was walking her dog looking for it with us, then she told us about a beach back the way we had come that had loads of glass on it.
my haul

Masses and masses of beautiful glass. The glass was nearly laying this thickly on the beach.  I also picked up a couple of pieces of sea worn slate that I thought I might paint.  And I found a Polly Pocket doll in very good condition.

 Would I like to live - not really sure.  As we walked along the seawall we spotted this shack built on the side of the cliff.  Although the views over the sea must be fantastic and it has to be a very peaceful place to live - when bad weather hits surely it would be horrible.  There was a rocking chair on a ledge and chickens roaming freely behind the gate.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Not crafting - a slice of social history instead.

Some time ago I purchased a dvd of vaious vintage images from EBAY.  Included on it were Christmas images, maps, war time posters,animals, faries, children and adverts - just file after file of images. 
Even though you know that there is a whole generation that was virtually forced to smoke ( my parents generation and those a little older and younger), looking at them with todays views  these adverts make such scarey claims.  Starting from the usual 'I am famous and I smoke so its cool'  some 
 claims get more and more outrageous


 Doctors it would seem have spent an incredible amount of time endorsing products for advertising campaigns.  I do not smoke and never have - I am neither pro nor anti-smoking. But I think the ever changing acceptable standards of advertising is interesting and at times a bit frightening.  I am glad though that I have copies of  these little snips of social history. 

Add caption

Back to crafting later today........

Monday, 9 January 2012

Trying to master Serif craft artist

As it was so mild today I decided to tackle the mass of ivy that is overhanging our drive.  None of the ivy has come from our side of the wall. I have been meaning to do this for some months now but haven't done it because I knew what a mamoth task it was going to be.  The wall is only just longer than our car so not a very long wall. So far fifteen bags have been taken to the tip and I wouldn't be too suprised if we don't get as much again before we are done.  That is how much of the day was spent.

I did find time to practice editing photos with my Christmas present SERIF CRAFT ARTIST.  While I was reading the manual I saw there were ways to mask part of your photo and change the rest of it with various filters.  It took me several attempts but I have finally got the hang of it. 
I used a picture of a orange hot rod taken a couple of years ago at a car show.  I masked the car and used one of the lighting filters to give the background an old feel and make the orange stand out.   

This link will take you to DAISY TRAIL home of craft artist.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

One of a kind

I was asked for one of my photo bags for a Christmas present.  It was to show my cat - to start with to show him awake but then it was to show him asleep and instead of being landscape it needed to be in portrait format.

I thought about the design of this bag for quite a while.  The picture was the easy part.  A picture of young Bruce asleep and dreaming, that way we could have the best of both worlds.  It also gave me a chance to put lots of butterflies and dragonflies on the bag (for Bruce to be dreaming about - he likes to chase them).

The portrait format was harder because I didn't feel that it would give enough room in the bag to make it practical.  My solution was to make laminated panels for each end of the bag using THE JAYNE NETLEY MAYHEW COLLECTION from Joanna Sheen.  There are lots of big cat patterned backing papers on the cd roms that were perfect I chose a leopard print one.

Now the big issue was whether I had managed to over complicate the design and to be honest I didn't really want to start it in case things went badly .........I did a lot of the final construction on Boxing Day morning knowing that it had to be done so I could deliver it that afternoon.

Over sewing the panels together with a zigzag stitch turned out to be a bit easier than I had imagined and the black lace trim on the bag and braided into the handles gave it a nice finish.  

It could be truely one of a kind as I am not at all sure I want to make another one not even for myself.
let sleeping cats lay

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Inspired from childhood books

I have always loved reading - pretty much anything.  Although some of the histories I have tried have been very heavy going had quite often sent me to sleep.  There are many books from my childhood that I still dig out and read when the mood takes me and it is from some of these that I have got the ideas for my first crafted items of the year.
This is the first - I have called it PEPPERMINT PIG  which was the title of a book by Nina Baldwin and was about a family that brought the smallest pig in a litter for sixpence. They called it a peppermint pig because of its size which seemed to fit such a tiny little pig necklace.

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge was the inspiration for the next necklace.  In her book white horses rush to the shore as the tide comes in.  This necklace I have called LITTLE WHITE HORSE OF THE SEA - there are tiny tiny shells as well as a slither of seaglass  included in the stem of the pendant.  This horse also reminds me of carousel horses. I am very pleased with how sea foamy the ribbon for the choker looks.  Again I want to keep it.

I want to make some gingerbread fairings - I liked the gingerbread of the sleigh I made a Christmas so much that I want to do more.  In the book THE GOOD MASTER  by Kate Seredy the family go to a travelling fair and buy fairings - big decorated gingerbread hearts with a mirror set in them.     This blog has some very interesting stuff about gingerbread.   
I also thought that a fimo version for keeping would work quite well, I need to search out my pack of fimo.

This how poor Bruce spent the evening
while I was busy making things.
Maybe not the most flattering picture.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Merrily crafting again.

Back to creating.  I have spent several relaxing days reading other peoples blogs, pouring over stuff on Etsy, roaming over the wonders of Pinterest and reading magazines.  Now it is time to stop looking and see what I can do.  I have dug out the tiny tiny bottles than I brought from Ebay years ago and started to fill them, next step is to make something to hang the pendants on - I thought braided ribbon with little beads would work well.  I really want to create that SHOW STOPPING something that will kick start my Etsy shop.  It is not that I dont believe the items already on Etsy aren't good because I do it is just there is so much fantastic stuff there that I need to rethink.  It may be how I am tagging my items.  I was so pleased just before Christmas when one of my items got placed on a treasury list - a step in the right direction.

Lots of ideas floating around inside my head just waiting to become solid and this space for more over the next few days.

I also want to start making my own clothes again. The only way I can dress as I want instead of how others think I should.  Big boxes of fabric upstairs so lots of opportunity.  This desire to dressmake again in partly triggered by a book I got for Christmas 18th century Embroidery Techniques by Gail Marsh                             ISBN 978-1-86108-476-7    Lots of useful information a book I would recommend. 

Other things to learn/try this year goldwork and needlefelting