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Sunday, 31 August 2008

Look what i found today!

Whilst attempting to clear out my tip that is a craft room at the moment, i found this little fellow.

It was this little crafty effort, my first ever, a basic bead bracelet made on a loom that got me involved in the world of crafting.



A few years ago, six to be exact, i was in hospital for quite a while. A lady in there was making fantastic bead jewellery on a loom. I was fascinated and asked if she could make me a small bracelet for each of my little girls. She said to me, "You go down the road to the sewing shop, buy a loom and some beads and i'll teach you how to make your own!"

So off i went and came back with a small handfull of crafty stash. It took me a couple of days, but i made my girls a little bracelet with flowers in the design, and i made myself the one in the piccy. It was funny because the other guys in the ward with me used to walk past whilst i was beading and would give a little grin, or say, "What the hell are you doing that for?"

By the end of the week, if i had a pound for every one of those guys who had asked me to make something for thier partners or kids, i'd have retired early! :)

It was from there i went searching the internet for beading sites, and came across the Crafts By Carolyn forum. During my journey around the many crafts discussed there, i also met my partner Maddy.......and the rest as they say......is history! :)

All because of this little beady fellow!

Friday, 29 August 2008

Distressed luggage tag.

Distressing techniques are great for someone like me. As i tell my kids, with distressing, you just can't make a mistake that makes it look imperfect, because thats the general idea!

Tonight during yet another sleepless night turned crafty session, i made this very basic tag and gave it an old and weathered leathery look.



A very easy look to achieve, heres how i did it....

1. I covered a mountboard tag diecut with a plain white cardstock tag diecut. I do this because the mountboard backing tag gives it the sturdyness (bit more Calv proof) and the cardstock gives me a better colour and texture effect when distressed.

2. Next stamp any stamp image you want on the tag in black ink, i used a journey stamp as it's a luggage tag, and i used black StazOn ink.

3. Next i got a piece of one of my favourite, if not THE fave distressing tools i have, some medium grade sandpaper. Yep, the sort you sand wood with. Give your tag a good old rough sand around the edges, and a few scuffs over the surface of the tag. Don't forget, don't worry if you think you're ruining your tag, you're distressing it......and most likely making it look better!

4. Using a clear Versamark pad, i stamped a destination stamp on the tag, sprinkled red embossing powder on, shook of the excess powder before using a heat gun to set it.

5. Then i took an "Antique Linen Tim Holtz Distress ink pad" and gave the whole tag a good colouring with it. You'll see the areas that you scuffed with sandpaper, give a darker colour and a more weathered and "worn" effect.

6. The hole re-enforcer is just a circle punched out, and hole made with a Crop A Dile. This has been sanded and coloured the same way.

7. I used a tiny bit of walnut stain distress embossing powder on the edges for texture, and a tiny brush of charcoal pigment ink pad here and there. Gives an old, dirty look to the tag. To get a few black "scratch" effects, i just lightly touched the very edge of a black StazOn pad on various irregular points of the tag, it makes a very fine thin black line across it.

8. Another brush of antique linen ink here and there, and a good rub with my finger......and theres your tag. I love using my finger on distress inks, it can really blend in and wear down the initial strong colours of an ink. Just smudge away until you get the desired effect.

So thats it, an easy tag with an old look. :)

Calv's safety tip: Should your tag begin to smoke whilst using your heat gun, theres a pretty good chance you have it too close! I use a tile or a heat mat underneath whatever i'm heating. Always know where your nearest fire extinguisher is!

Now for that sleep!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Fruit i inked today!

Hi inky fruit fans! :)

Yes it's that time once again for what i have decided to make my weekly feature...."Fruit i inked today!"

Every week, i will be scouring the shops for different fruits to alcohol ink. Each fruit will get a "fruitinkability" rating out of 10 (Oh yes my friends....fruitinkability is now an official word!), based on difficulty, enjoyment factor and end result.

Last week we saw my effort with a banana which turned out ok, but this week people......would you please put your scissors down, pull yourself away from Create and Craft for two minutes, and put your hands together for.......(drum roll....drrrrrrrrrrrrr).........the grape!!!




This one was a tricky little blighter! Hard to hold obviously, i looked like Harry Potter running around my craft room trying to keep hold of the Golden Snitch! The grape skin (which started off light green) seemed to wet the ink every time i applied it, so it got messy pretty fast.

Did i enjoy this one? Not sure about that one, i reckon there are easier fruit out there to ink if you really have to. My inking technique definitely needs improving, i know that for a start. So before my next installment, i will be watching some more of Tim Holtz's videos, i'm sure he'd be impressed that his talents were contributing to a project that will soon have a huge following!

I'm going to give this a fruitinkability rating of 3. The colour did not come out as nice as i'd like and it was hard to ink, therefore there just was'nt the party in my ink applicator i expected!

Thanks for popping your head in, and just to keep your mouths watering for next weeks episode of "Fruit i inked today!"........lets just say i'm going to go exotic for that one!!! :)

Nite all.......oops....should be saying morning now actually! Doesn't time fly when you are inking fruit? :)

Post-It holder with pen slot tutorial.

Hi all, well tonight i have been having a play with the post-it holders again, however i've added a slot for a pen.



The style is slightly different than the last ones i did, in that these are more the style of a book with a ribbon to close it.


Heres the finished product......the full step-by-step tutorial with pictures can be found here at the Crafts By Carolyn forum.










Heres one my eldest helped make for herself....





Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Proof i'm being good.

My lunch....and probably many more meals for the next 12 weeks!



Just need to sort my portions out, they are supposed to be little and often, not gigantic and often!

I am going to miss my chocolate soooooooo much!

Had a crafty morning.

A friend of mine on the Crafts By Carolyn forum, (Hi Carole!) asked me if i'd mind donating a couple of post-it holders (Now i know how to make them lol) to a charity auction being held this weekend.

Sam over at Little Red Pen is organising it to raise funds for Friends of Treehouse School, a school for children with autism.

So this morning i had a play. I'm quite chuffed with the results, it was a bit daunting as it's only been a couple of days since i made my first one, so hopefully someone out there will like them.

Here they are....











I threw in one of my fairy doors too, should raise a few more pennies...


I really enjoyed making these, time to go and get them in the post. No crafting for the rest of the day now, it's day one of my health challenge so tonight i will be on a rowing machine...if you see me sail past.....and if you see me capsize......please give me a hand! :)

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

An altered body in 12 weeks!

As i sit here eating the last burger in my fridge, i am making the decision to sort my body out a bit.....or a lot in fact!

I used to be fit, in pretty good shape and quite happy with the way i was. However due to injuries picked up in past careers, and other excuses.....i'll call them that rather than reasons because excuses are what they are......i've let myself go somewhat. I could blame my biggest and fave hobby, crafting.....i mean i know we can get quite a workout on the Big Shot but realistically, sitting at a scrap table is never going to get us in shape is it?

So i've decided to do something about it. A few years ago i did the Body For Life Challenge, it was a worldwide competition and i did pretty well. Even got my piccy in a few magazines, the usual fitness mags but the crowning glory was my appearance in the UK chat mag, "Take a Break"!!! :)

Anyway, you have 12 weeks to change your body through exercise and good nutrition.

So i thought i'd give it another go, however unfortunately they've made a hash up of the UK one this year, and they won't let us join the US challenge like they did before (not a happy bunny!)

Not to worry though, i'll just follow the routine and the diet and see how it goes. The reason i'm telling you all about this, is because i've been meaning to do this for a couple of years now, but you know how it is.....one things leads to another and you sit on your backside watching tv!

Putting it on my blog is kind of like being accountable to everyone here, if i don't go through with the programme i'll feel like i've let myself down and others too.

Here's the mag pics from my last effort, yes i know they are well cheesy lol, cringe worthy even!....but i would say i'm back at the "before" piccy stage on the magazine pics below. I'm top left in the black shorts by the way.....not the yellow bikini!



Don't ask for a close up......thats as brave as i get right now!!! :)

I want to do this mainly for myself, but also for my girls. My body feels like an 80 year olds right now, and i want to feel at least a few years younger than that. The old injuries i have will hinder things somewhat, but theres many worse off than me who have done more so i'll shut up moaning lol. :)

So starting from tomorrow, i'll begin the 12 weeks. Finish date will be December 4th. I'll keep a little update going on here from time to time, and you have my full permission to tell me off if you hear me eating rubbish! :)

I'll take some more "before" pics later tonight, and may even post them when the 12 weeks are up as i "should" be looking better!

Wish me luck!!!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Got a new light tent for my pics.

Hi all :)

I thought that as long as i'm producing crafty things to show, i may as well learn how to take decent piccies. So today i got a light tent. £9.99 from the electronics store Maplins here in the UK. Thanks to Correna for that tip.

There seem to be numerous tutorials on the net showing how to make cheap versions of the real thing, well worth a look at, but for under a tenner, i get a portable foldaway tent in a carry case which i don't have to make!
So the tent itself. Here it is on the shops website.





I think i am right in saying you have to turn it upside down, you then get the nice background cloth curving down too.

You need a couple of lights either side for lighting, desk lamps should be fine for this. I bought a couple of cheap ones from Tesco, two for £6 and they only have ordinary bulbs in at the moment. Tomorrow i'll get some daylight bulbs.

I would like to add i have not got a clue about lighting for pics, light positioning, camera tricks and all that, so this is very much a learning curve. Apologies if any of this info is incorrect, i'm just saying it as i am trying it here.

So my first practice pics, heres a couple and the first difference, or improvement should i say, is in the background. Seemless rather than everything in my house getting in the shot!




I have to have a play with everything in order to get it right, but i'm pleased with the little improvement so far. The colour is not as true on these pics as in real life, so i've done something wrong already, but small steps and all that.

Time to go look at some photography sites methinks!

Had a little play again and i think i've set it up ok now....




Still need to wait for better light bulbs. I'll get back to you!

Edited : Just got my daylight bulbs, so i now have one either side, and a halogen lamp overhead.

Heres a couple of pics.....




Not too sure,.....i have a lot to learn about photography by the looks of things!

Stating the obvious i know but.......

For those who may at some point in the future find themselves scraping the barrel for things to look at on the net, and follow my "Fruit i inked today" feature, please remember NOT to eat what you create! I repeat.... "DO NOT EAT WHAT YOU CREATE!!!"

I cannot be held responsible for any adverse health effects that come from licking, chewing or swallowing alcohol inked items. It make look good enough to eat, but please don't take that literally! :)

Just thought i'd add that incase anyone tries it. I did contemplate it as theoretically i inked the skin, not the banana......but i thought i should set an example!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

A most inspiring weekend.

This weekend has been quite productive for me in the crafty sense.

I've spent a fair bit of time looking around some totaly inspiring blogs and websites, there are just so many on the internet and i can see i've only just dipped my toe in the inspirational pond of craft sites.

The talent of some people astounds me it really does, my partner Maddy, who inspires me daily, recently introduced me to a hugely talented lady's blog, Lea Sanders. Despite being a male crafter, i'm not the kind of guy who avoids girly makes, indeed i have my fair share of all that glitters and my craft room has more than enough blooms and pink ribbons. My girls make sure of that anyway!

However Lea Sanders's work got my attention straight away. She caters for everyone and everything by the looks of things, and i found her blog a big help with the problem i have about "what colours to use where?" So basicaly, she has a new fan and i will follow her blog with interest. Thanks Lea, and thank you Maddy for the introduction.

(Probably the only time i'll ever have Maddy happy to introduce me to another woman!)

I made a few crafty bits with my girls, they are totaly loving the post-it holders, so of course every man and his dog has been made one. In the past i've done the more mundane and boring parts of craft projects for them like the measuring and the likes, they just did the exciting bits. However this weekend i have got them to do EVERYTHING! Boring as it may have been for them, or at least i thought, they were brilliant and now know loads of new techniques and terminology which they can use again and pass on to friends. Heres a couple they made themselves, no different than mine as far as the standard is concerned! I just checked and adjusted a couple of measurements for them, apart from that, it's all thier own work!


A great kids first effort i thought!



Same again, great result and my Archaic stash is fast dissapearing!

We found a craft fair in our village which was a nice suprise, and i got a compliment of sorts from one of the stallholders! I was explaining to my kids drama teacher about distressing, how to do it, the different materials used etc, and a lady from behind stall was smiling away as i was talking. I got a bit embarrased at first, but she said it was "odd, but nice" to hear a guy talking in such detail about crafting like that. (Is it really that unusual???)

It wasn't until afterwards, i realised how much knowledge i've retained in my journey around the different crafts. I have an advantage that my girlfriends craftroom is like a tutorial to every material and technique out there, she has always been a great source of help and knowledge......so i must have listened sometimes! :)

This weekend has given me a lot more vision for my crafting. Yes i will make a hash up of many of my projects, but they will be happy hash ups that i can learn from. I like to think of my crafty makes like the words of Thomas Edison who invented the lightbulb....... "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work!" :)

So a big thank you to all who have helped this weekend, even if you don't know it!

PS: I've just burnt my sausages whilst writing this! Not impressed!!! At least i know my smoke alarm works. :)

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Post-it cover.

Of all the easy projects out there to do, a post-it note cover is one that i have not done yet.
So tonight i gave it a quick bash, just a real basic one with a brad and some threads thrown in for good measure. It fastens with a velcro circle, next time i'll slightly alter the score marks as i think i did one too close, it closes a little tight if that makes sense?

Like i said, very basic i know, but i wanted to get the hang of a basic one so i can pass on the knowledge to the kids in the morning......i can see them making these for of thier friends! I was so chuffed with the Pheobe paper i used, i didn't want to stick things all over it. The colours are well cool! :) The brad came from the lovely selection in the Basic Grey Archaic collection.



Thursday, 21 August 2008

So i alcohol inked a banana!

Ok i was bored!

After another evening of some successfull-ish alcohol inking, and some slightly less successfull efforts, i decided to ink a banana. Well it's good to research different textures and all that eh?

Pretty chuffed with the results, might make it a regular feature on my blog......."Fruit i inked today!"



Update for fruitinkability rating.......this ones going to get a 5 from me! It was nice to apply the ink to, the colours blended well on the skin, and it was enjoyable due to the generous size and smooth texture! :) I'd have given it a higher rating, but the colour result still does'nt leap out at me shouting FANTASTIC!!!

Time for bed i think, i've learnt a few things tonight whilst playing with my inks, but most importantly.....

Calv's safety tip: Always remember to ensure the lid is on your bottle of gold mixative before vigorously shaking it near your work. Also....once you've learnt your lesson from the first time doing this, don't do it a second time or you'll find yourself needing more mixative!!! (Stupid boy!) Thank the Lord for blending soloution, a great cleaner!

Nite all. :)

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

My crafty space.

Unfortunately i have'nt got a craft room as such yet, however in order to reduce the many areas of the house that were getting cluttered with crafty stash, i decided to put a craft area at the end of my bedroom. The way i see it is this, i craft more than i sleep, so why not put part of the room to good use?

It's not much but it keeps me and two little chipmunks happy. Theres even three of everything so theres no fighting or waiting for tools! I caught two little crafters busy making stuff for thier friends.



Yes i know i have no curtains up yet, i'm deciding on curtains or blinds. Posibly going to go with a nice wooden blind to match the beech worktop. My craft area is very much an ongoing project, i seriously need to sort my storage out. My cheapy veg racks from Argos work a treat for now!

One of the landlord relaxing in his establishment too.............. :) Note the first aid kit to the right of the piccy........and you thought that was just a prop for my header pic! Believe me...it gets good use!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Been playing with inks.....

Today i've been playing with alcohol inks, stamps and memory glass.

I'm after a particular effect that i saw recently and was really impressed by. I've not really made anything particular, just messing around with effects. I wanted to ink the glass, and stamp it too, but it did'nt turn out as vibrant as i wanted, so Maddy suggested i alcohol inked onto glossy photo paper first, so i did.

The result was much better. I've inked the paper with three colours on my ink applicator, but i guess you could use a brayer too. Once the inks really dry, i then stamped a nice design with black Stazon. Then the clear piece of memory glass covers it, giving it a gorgeous vibrant shine.



The stamped image isn't as crisp as i'd like, but then again this is my first try so i was'nt expecting perfection. Maddy said that Stazon can react with the ink sometimes as it's a solvent ink, so maybe thats why it is not as clear as planned?

I've seen this sort of thing done with clear acrylic shapes to make gorgeous pendants, and they can be sealed with foil (i think i'm right there?) around the edge but i just wanted to post this to give people an idea of the kind of effect you can get.

What you then use it for, is up to you.

Edited to say: After a very informative and jolly phonecall with Jennie from The Artistic Stamper (link to the right of my blog), i have discovered that what i was after was acrylic fragments, so i've bought some from Jennie's shop. She has done some gorgeous examples as part of projects on her blog. Thanks Jennie! :)

New stash report!

Just a quicky to say i got some of the Basic Grey Archaic Collection the other day from my local craft shop, Emerald Crafts. (Great shop with helpfull staff giving good crafty advice....about time we had one around here!). Some great papers for the little......or big adventurer in your life. Kids into jungles or dinosaurs will adore these goodies. I'm thinking of doing a mini album with them about my kids jaunts in the woods.



The chipboard, brads and buttons are great.......



There are some cool papers too.......these are my faves......




What do ya know! Fingertips DO grow back!

Recently whilst at my girlfriends house, i had a couple of rather unfortunate crafty incidents that i thought i would share. One is good safety lesson for you all.......the other.....not quite sure what it would come under really?

I was cutting large amounts of mountboard using a Stanley knife and metal ruler, and i must have let my concentration slip somewhat, my finger that was holding the ruler steady crept over the edge of the ruler. Result.....i took a good slice off of the tip of my left index finger!

For those of you that are squeamish, fear not, it was'nt as bad as it sounded. It did leave me however with a perfectly flat left side of my fingertip!!! Quite precise in fact. Anyway, a month later and my fingertip is round again...well kind of.




So without futher ado......

Calv's safety tip: Always keep your fingers well away from your cutting blades, no matter what tool you're using! Fingers are not supposed to have angles to them!

The other indicent......which i will word very carefully......involves a rather bizzare application of embossing powder. My girlfriend and i had been crafting all night, and basicaly i was busting for the loo! We were about to take some craft gear downstairs, so i grabbed 3 tubes of embossing powder in my hand, and ran to the toilet.

I raced into the toilet, but in my haste i knocked the lid off of one of the embossing powders!!! I'll leave the details, but lets just say that a certain body part of mine ended up completely covered in gold embossing powder!!!!

Didn't i feel a twit! Maddy of course thought it was hilarious.......i said i didn't know whether to have a wee or crackle glaze it!!!

Oh well, we'd had a knackering day, at least it raised a giggle. :)

Calv's safety tip: Always, ALWAYS.......leave craft gear OUTSIDE the toilet, no matter how much you need to go!

10 commandments for my craft room.

I honestly never expected someone like me to be writing about rules, however i have two eager little crafters here half the time so i feel something needs to be put in place!

1. Dad's stash shall not be pinched and given/sold it to friends at school!

2. Fighting over the last bloom, book ring or ribbon is strictly forbidden. (Unless i need it, then light shoving is permitted.)

3. Dad's Whisper pens are not to be used to colour in wood in the garden!!!

4. We do NOT bring live bugs/grubs/wildlife into the craft room. (I don't care if they have'nt hatched yet!)

5. We will not use the best chipboard for EVERYTHING!!!

6. Dad does not need more flower eyelets in his trousers.....no matter how pretty they apparently look.

7. The only odours permitted in the craft room are from craft related items. Other "creations" are not welcome!

8. The craft table is not to be used to cut dolls hair on. Whilst the Bratz doll may look funky, the "hairy" look for EVERY craft project i do is definately not good!

9. Your sister's hand will most certainly NOT fit through the Big Shot!!!

10. Most importantly, have fun!!! :)

Recovery from a happy accident.

I'm currently working on a journal as part of a lesson at the craft club which i belong. However, after i did a nice job covering the thing with a lovely paper.......guess who dropped a freshly inked black Stazon pad face down on the front cover? Ah....that would be numpty chops here!



Now i know that many would leave the mistake as it could fit in with the distressed look, but i'm one of these people who would constantly freak that a mistake was showing, so i covered it up.

First i did a tag, stamped it, distress inked it and laid it in the same position as my hash up. The "scratch" effect on the tag was done with the edge of the offending black Stazon pad.



Lastly, for a bit of depth, i stamped onto a piece of stampboard, the image matching the "journey" part of the tag exactly. I then used distress ink for a bit of colour, then crackle glazed it. When dry and fully crackled, i finished it off with a little ink on a cloth to highlight the cracks.

There you go.....one balls up nicely sorted!



As my favourite painter Bob Ross always said......"There are no mistakes......just happy accidents!"

Monday, 18 August 2008

Homemade alcohol ink bottle holder.

I like tinkering around with wood. Not saying i'm any good, but once in a while i produce a handy little thing for using around the craft room.

Here i made a holder for my alcohol ink bottles, it also holds the Stickler bottles and various other bottles the same size. Simple to make, get a piece of battening, using a hole saw, drill as many holes as you want along your wood. Sand the wood and holes before cutting a thin piece of wood as a base, this base will stop your bottles falling through the holes.

Glue the base on the bottom, then sand it all again to get the base nice and flush with the top part. Then a lick of varnish or two and hey presto, one bottle holder! Yes i know you can buy these in the shops, but if you can buy them for as cheap as i made this.....that would be nothing as i found the wood in my shed......then best of luck to ya!



Calv's safety tip: Don't hold the wood on your thigh when you are drilling with your hole saw! Not saying i did.....just saying that "i heard" it hurts and can result in you having to bin your jeans!!!

Proof i don't bodge everything!

Ok, as this is predominantly a crafty blog, i guess i should provide some evidence that i can actualy create something!

Heres a "pamper tin" i made for my girlfriend. It started life as a large PG Tips tea caddy, but after a little altering and and a good stuffing of pamper goodies, it now has a new life as a pamper tin.

This was my first effort at altering something. I have to admit that i was not blessed with "vision" when it comes to certain craft projects, and this went through various stages of elevated stress levels before i actualy saw something emerge from the mess that was my craft table!

That said, i did enjoy it in the end!



And so it begins!........

So here i am, taking my first steps into the world of "the blog".

Why "Mishaps In The Making" i hear you ask? Well for those who don't know me, lets just say my life has been "eventfull", and i am close friends with the hospital staff at the local A&E! I blame the modern craft tools these days......far too sharp and pointy! Don't even get me started on the stickyness of glues!!!

I have been crafting for a few years now, dabbling in many different crafts. I have been known to make the odd handcrafted fairy door or two, and recently am enjoying the many aspects of papercrafts. Funnily enough i was introduced to beading during a stay in hospital!

I have two gorgeous daughters who are craft mad too, in fact we have just turned one end of my bedroom into a craft area. Who needs sleep when you can craft instead?

As for my crafty inspiration, this job has to go to my partner Maddy Hill. One of the most versatile crafters i have ever met, Maddy has not only introduced me to many crafts, but continues to inspire and teach me new things every day. So getting the soppy bit out of the way quickly......thank you Maddy......for everything xxx.

Enough waffle though, welcome to my blog, pull up a seat and a cuppa and enjoy the crafty ride!