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Sunday, 30 September 2012

CRAFTING TOWARDS CHRISTMAS

Hi everyone

Not sure if the title of my post should be crafting towards Christmas or panicking towards it.  I can successfully find a million and one reasons for not doing something, and that is exactly what I seem to be doing at the moment.  33 days before my first Christmas Craft event in which I have to make Christmas cards, every-day cards, gift bags and boxes, Christmas wreaths and if time is on my side, candles (these have appeared on my mental to-do list since last year and have tended to not move from the bottom)!

I have taken the plunge and will be attending a Wedding Fayre on Sunday, 7 October at the Frensham Pond Hotel.  The couple whose wedding stationery I created recently recommended me to the event organiser at the hotel, so this coming week will be spent making some display items.  There is apparently one other wedding stationer at the event, so I am hopeful it will be a great success for both of us.  Do I feel  nervous?  Yes!  I am using the purple and cream card from previous work to create one range for next week (I have plans for others) and include everything from Save the Date to place name cards.  Here is a photograph of the invitations - not too sure about them yet, but only mocks so can play around with them some more this coming week:


As my blog readers/followers know I have a competition running on my blog to mark World Card-Making Day (6 October).  I have received some really beautiful cards already, and I know more are on the way.  There is still time to join in, so please do - as mentioned in my recent posts the competition is being sponsored by new craft magazine Make & Craft who have been great at supporting and promoting this event (the first issue is due for publication on 12 October - very exciting, so don't miss the launch party).  There is still time to enter (the closing date is Wednesday, 3 October), so why not join in?  I will be posting all cards received on a special blog post on Saturday, 6 October and I would like to ask everyone who visits and comments on my blog post to drop in on Saturday and comment on your favourite card (or cards) please.  There are three prizes so the three cards that receive the most comments will be the winners.  I will announce them on Facebook, Twitter and the Crafts Forum and in my blog post on Sunday, 7 October.

I hope you caught this week's guest blog post from Emma Louise Szostok.  Emma's cards are really beautiful and look at her gorgeous wedding invitations - being someone who likes black and white, I think they are stunning.  I think a lot of us can understand Emma's feeling about being 'hidden away' at a craft event.  I once attended one where I was place in the refreshments room with two other crafters.  Great, I thought, bound to stop and buy - sadly, no because all visitors were interested in by the time they got to my room was food and drink.  It's a learning curve that seems to have no end.

I have had 5 invitations this week from local schools to take part in their Christmas Fairs as I attended last year's events.  It is nice to be remembered, but I am sticking to my decision to do few and hopefully more high-profile ones this year. The right decision?  I will let you know once they have all taken place.

The non-crafty stuff

First of all a belated, but nonetheless grateful thank you to Julie at Anglers Rest.  Julie held a Books Giveaway blog competition recently and I was lucky enough to be the winner - I received my lovely prize of the book Toast by Nigel Slater.  Thank you Julie.  I do recommend to those of you who are local to Guildford and of course Christmas Pie that you visit Julie's other blog.  She has some incredible pictures on there of life in this area in days gone by.

We are back to being a two-car family again - thank goodness!  Transport where we live is not very frequent and if one of us is out, it means the other one is very restricted as to what they can do.  I know in these times it may seem extravagant and I am sure when we both retire (do crafters retire?) we will have to re-think the car situation, but at the moment they are both necessary. The good news is that the new car seems to run on fresh air (I wish), and costs considerably less than the previous one to tax and maintain.

I went to the Godalming Independent Market on Saturday - not as a stallholder, but as an assistant stallholder.  I helped a friend set up her stall, 'hung' around for about an hour when the event opened and then.  This was the same friend, Linda, who helped me out last weekend.  She makes gorgeous cakes and one in particular, walnut and coffee, was very popular.  However, one 'customer' informed us that she had seen another cake-maker (not local) selling a similar cake for £3.50!  How she had managed to do so to cover ingredients, time, power and make a profit I have no idea!  I was just waiting for the customer to tell me that this cake-maker was 'only doing it as a hobby'!

I started my main pottery project last week - a mask made of porcelain.  I have made the basic face part, and spent some time rolling porcelain into worm-like shapes for hair.  I haven't quite decided on the mask's features, but I do fancy a wild hairstyle.  I also dipped my necklace and earrings and if they have been fired this week, I hope to be able to add them to my next Sunday's post.  I chose Denby Blue - when I did a test piece this came out as a purple colour, which was lovely.  Problem is, will it be the same this time around.

Don't forget to send me the photographs of your card(s) for the World Card-Making competition by Wednesday of this week - please send them to christmaspiecrafts@virginmedia.com.  I have some great guest bloggers lined up for October, and if you would like to start the ball rolling for the November bloggers, please do get on touch on the same email address for the card competition.  Don't forget to visit the other bloggers taking part in this week's Handmade Monday event - I know you will find lots of lovely makes and posts

Have a good week everyone - I will be back on Wednesday, my guest blogger will be here on Friday and I will be posting all of the card entries here on Saturday

Jill

Friday, 28 September 2012

TODAY'S GUEST BLOGGER IS....


Hello There...

My names Emma Louise, I’m 21 years old and I live just outside of Manchester with my family and my lovely kitty cats Sasha and Susie. I’m currently going into my last year at Salford University studying Illustration. I’m new to the craft world and don’t have many crafts under my belt but so far I’ve made a variety of different things. From Sketchbooks to Headbands, Cards to ATC’s and a few bits in between.

Being creative has always been a passion but recently got enhanced when I decided to take it further and begin crafting. It’s pushed me further as a person and an Illustrator as I’m combining the two together and producing what I believe to be better work.

I first found my love of crafting after being asked to make Wedding Invitations but the couple didn’t want just your run of the mill invitations that could be mass produced they wanted bespoke, one off’s that nobody else will have had and they wanted 200 of them! I loved every minute of it. From start to finish and seeing the smile on the couple’s faces was the best feeling in the world. To know that I had contributed to the most special day of their lives made me feel fantastic.

That’s when I realised I wanted to make anything I possibly could to make people as happy as they where!


After deciding I wanted to get involved in more craft work I trawled the internet for little projects I could do and that’s when I came across the idea of making paper beads and making up bracelets. I started immediately!

Making the beads is great fun but hard work on your fingers after a while when rolling the paper into shape. Almost like friction burn but the outcome is worth it and I had friends and family requesting for their own bracelets. I haven’t sold many of these as personally I think people prefer more eccentric looking jewellery. For example polymer clay charms have taken over in all there cute and quirky little shapes and sizes.



Following on from my bracelets I went on a girly rampage and thought making headbands and clips would be something fun and could sell but yet wear myself and I already had all the equipment so I gave it a bash. I only made a few to start with and then a little flier came through the door saying that one of the local schools was having a craft fair and I jumped at the chance and got myself a stall. That was my chance to go mad and make anything and everything I rummaged through my crafts box and made a list of everything I could make to sell that included more headbands and clips along with more bracelets and even better a chance to print out some of my illustrations to try and sell. I got to work straight away!




I made up several headbands and several pairs of clips to sit alongside my bracelets, illustrations, cards and painting and invited my grandma to add some of her beautiful baby knitting to finish off my stall. Little did I know I was going to be put in a back room with 3 other great crafters and sellers for 5 hours to sell a blanket and 2 pair of clips!

I was gutted I put in all that hard work for the opportunity to get my work and crafts out there for nobody to seem interested. Thinking back on it though I got to have a good look around to see what others where selling and take note for if I decided on doing another fair. 


After that disheartening day I had a little break from crafting and concentrated more on my Illustrations and studies and where one door closed another one opened and that little break was where I came up with the best collection of prints and drawings I had ever done and with my new found energy and happiness for creating something that I was truly proud of I thought it was time to have another dip back into the crafting world and I’ve never left since!

Below are a few more pictures of crafts I’ve done


Notice board


Sketch book


ATC's

Thank you all for listening to me babble on about me, myself and my crafts and I hope to speak and swap tips with you all soon. If you have any questions for me then please comment or send me a message through any of these channels.....

Twitter - @em_louiise

Thank you all again !
Emma Louise Szostok x

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

ANOTHER DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CRAFTER?

Hi everyone

As you  know, I recently produced a post about a day in my life - but it seemed to encompass a few days.  This time around I am going to write about a specific day - last Saturday in fact.  The previous week had been spent burning quite a lot of midnight oil to complete a wedding stationery order - the wedding was on Saturday, 22 September, so no pressure really!  The bride and groom had kindly invited me to the church service.

'The' day dawned bright and sunny - thank goodness.  In addition to attending the church service, I was also taking part in a a craft event in Pirbright - so a bit of juggling was needed.  I had packed my event bags the night before, and at 8.00 am I loaded them into the car - along with part of the outfit I was going to wear to the wedding.  I had decided from a time constraints point of view the best thing would be to wear as much of my outfit to the event as possible.  So on me was the skirt and handbag and in the car was my jacket, long contrasting scarf and high-heels (I later discovered this was a bad choice).

I arrived at the event in Pirbright and set up my table.  Linda who was helping me at the event (covering for my absence at the wedding) arrived shortly after we were let in.  As any participant in an event knows, the first, say, half-an-hour is panic time.  Have I got everything I need? Do I remember the one time my stand looked great so that I can replicate it?  For the first time I am sharing a stand, so how much should I leave for Linda?  Decisions, decisions.  Set-up achieved, table shared between the two of us, coffee provided (free, very nice) by the organisers and the doors opened.  A trickle of customers at the start but this increased as the morning moved on, some stalls attracted a lot of attention, some not much.  The fudge stall next to us did great business.

As the clock moved around to 12 noon (my departure time) my plan was been to take one top off and add jacket and scarf in the loo - however, the loo was hard to get to and I decided I would change in my car!  12 noon arrived and off I went - sat in the car park pulling my arms out of my jumper and putting them into the sleeves of my jacket ensuring not too much of the rest of me was on show.  Mission accomplished without any embarrassing show of flesh.  Off to the church.   A friend had said 'it's best to park in the town centre car park - it's free and the church is not far'.  Silly me, I should have remembered that not far to her is a marathon to me.  Off I set, high heels getting a little uncomfortable, but I eventually made it to the church after a 20-minute hike.

The church had been decorated beautifully.  The groom came up to talk to me, which I thought was lovely of him.  He was very happy and looked very smart.  The bride arrived -ten minutes late!  Sadly I had to do a lot of clock-watching as my time was limited - as this was Linda's first event I didn't think it was very fair to leave her on her own for too long.  The service was lovely and I managed to stay until the registers were being signed - not too much of an interruption to slip out then.  When I got outside there was a fabulous old car at the foot of the church steps - I thanked the driver, said it was very kind for transport to be arranged, but thought It best to leave it for the bride and groom!

I set off for the return 20-minute hike, high-heels so uncomfortable by this stage made it back to my car ready to change my outfit again.  Problem - a man was sitting in his car next to mine using his mobile phone and he sat therefore for over 5-minutes!  Patience is not my middle name, but eventually clothing change effected, jacket swapped for original top and I returned to the event in Pirbright.  Aching feet, scarf still around my neck and desperate for a cup of coffee.  A great day?  Very much so.  Would I do it again?  I'll let you know.

I am linking today's post with Caroline's UK Handmade Thursday blog hop and will add the link tomorrow when it is available.  Don't forget to read the other blogs that take part and join in the blog hop too, everyone with a craft-related post is very welcome.

Jill

Sunday, 23 September 2012

END OF A BUSY AND EXHAUSTING WEEK

Hi everyone

It's raining and apparently it is going to be soggy all day today, and on and off for most of this coming week. Yesterday was such a gorgeous day - the last day of warm sunshine this year?

This last week has been frantic - I feel exhausted and plan to take today off, well making cards, etc so less mad than last week.  I eventually finished the finals bits of the wedding stationery at 7.15 pm on Friday!  I had visions of handing out the Order of Service to the guests while still collating them, then on to the Reception Hotel to finish putting together the table plan!  A very close shave.  The  church service was lovely and both the bride and groom looked perfect.  The groom, best men (yes, 2) and ushers had waistcoats similar to the cream of the invitations and their button-holes were of a similar orange to the ribbon used.  The bridesmaids dresses were also a matching orange colour and the page-boys had waistcoats similar to those of the groom.  It was all very beautiful and a lot of hard work had gone into all of the arrangements.  True to tradition, and to the wedding stationery deadlines over the past few weeks, the bride was 10-minutes late - was I surprised?  Not at all.

Here is a photograph of the table plan when it was about to be 'stuck' down- not all tables had the same number of guests on, but the request was not to make the cards the same size as some would look a little empty.  It matches the design of both the invitations and order of service and I had a lovely message from the bride on Friday evening saying how pleased she was with everything I had done


Sadly, I had to leave while the register signing was taking place.  I was at an event in Pirbright and although a friend was covering for me, I had been away nearly 2 hours and felt it wasn't fair to be away any longer.  

The handmade event was very successful in the number of visitors - but I don't think it was successful for all stallholders.  I noticed that someone selling knitted toys (Postman Pat, etc) didn't do very well.  There were 4 stalls selling jewellery (too much competition?) and lucky for me only one other card-seller, whose cards were completely different to mine.  My mini-cards were a big success again - so the next few days will see me working hard to build up my stock.  I was very pleased that my friend, Linda, who covered for me while I was at the wedding, did very well with her cakes.  This was her first event and as anyone knows who has been at a craft event, not doing well at your first show is very disappointing and so de-motivating.  She sold lots of cup-cakes and took orders for her Christmas Cake (lots of tasty samples to try made it very popular).

It's Handmade Monday time so do nip over and check out the other blogs taking part.  Lots of gorgeous makes and great posts.  Don't forget that even if someone doesn't take part in Handmade Monday and you are normally a regular visitor to their blog, it's still nice to drop in and see how they are doing.

I hope lots of you Handmade Monday bloggers are going to take part in my World Card-Making Competition.  Make & Craft are sponsoring the competition and have generously donated three prizes.  Even if you are not normally a card-maker, why not join in?

The non-crafty stuff

Did you read Eva's latest guest blog post?  She certainly has a knack of making you want to immediately book up to go to the places she writes about.  Many thanks Eva, a great post and as always the photographs are lovely.  I hope you are enjoying your holiday in Budapest.

I attended a fund-raising dinner on Wednesday of last week.  Almost needless to say it was for cats - Woking Cats Protection.  The proceeds of the raffle raised £1,250 - a brilliant amount and one very generous person bid £250 for a 4-ball game of golf that was donated by Club where the dinner was held.

My two lovely foster kittens, Ash and Micro, left home last week - well my home that is.  They went to their new family on Thursday and I know they will have a very happy new life.  My temporary kitten-fostering has come to, what I hope it to be, a temporary end.  I was due to have two 'new' ones on Friday, but one has been homed and the other one has gone to a different fosterer.  So, the pen is empty, no more squeaking kittens calling for me, no water-bowl tipped up, no biscuits thrown around the place (on the plus side, no litter trays to empty!) - sad.

My pottery course began again last week and this time around I am doing the morning and afternoon sessions.  I spent last week working on pieces created last term and this week will begin creating a major project (or two) and finish off the 'left-overs' as they become 'cooked', etc.  It is good to be back with everyone, a really nice group and one new person this term, so I no longer feel like the 'new girl'.  I worked on a test piece to identify possible colours for the necklace and earrings I made last term; the firing may not be carried out for a week or so as there needs to be a reasonable number of pieces to ensure the kiln is full.  All great fun and I really enjoy myself.

Lots of catching up to do over the next few days: card-making, tweeting to people who have either tweeted me, RTd my blog posts, mentioned me, etc - I have been very neglectful recently (particular apologies to Dawn and Lesley).  I have three card orders to make - one of which is urgent (this is beginning to feel familiar), blog posts that I must comment on, and website work, and, and, and.....  

Have a good week everyone.  If you would like to be guest blogger or enter the card-making competition, please do get in touch: christmaspiecrafts@virginmedia.com.  I will be back on Wednesday with my usual mid-week post and don't forget to drop in on Friday to read my guest blogger's post.  How about joining in Caroline's UK Handmade Thursday blog hop? Have a look at the posts from last week's contributors and make a diary note to join in this week

Jill

Friday, 21 September 2012

TODAY'S GUEST BLOGGER IS.....


Eva Godden writing about a

Walk On The Wild Side
It is easy to fall in love with Liguria and its surrounding area, whether with its quintessentially rustic charm of the ancient villages, which you find clinging to the hilltops for hundreds of years, or the fashionable seaside, where life is different, more boisterous, and crowded.


Those who love the timeless allure of Portofino, the home of the mega-rich and powerful, but have grown weary of them and prefer something more tranquil, the Fiascherino Hill will fit the bill. It is literally on the border ofTuscany and the furthest South of Liguria. They really become a retreat after the busy summer season and you can enjoy the craggy and rocky coastline in peace and quiet.


The extra couple of hours drive down the most scenic of coast roads will be worth it, with hundreds of 'viaducts and tunnels' on the way, making an exciting start to your holiday.
Fiascherino is tucked away amongst the Mediterranean greenery with terracotta-topped villas and ancient sleepy hilltop villages above. This sweet, little hamlet will surprise the visitor with its natural beauty, fabulous, small little beaches, and its gentle walks.


Another not very well known area is the Lunigiana's Natural Parks, which are full of flora and fauna and it has an astounding number of species. Adding to these are the many vibrant birds and other wild life.

The recently formed National Park of the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano is home of the golden eagle and at the point of transit between Tuscany and Liguria the wolf of the Appennines makes rare appearances. Here blossoms the Appennines primrose and countless orchids in the springtime, when the hillside becomes white with thousands of flowering narcissus.


The red wines produced with pollera, cliegiolo, groppello and merlot wines make excellent starters as well as going well with lamb, roast chicken or local salamis. The valley is full of local restaurants and each one of them has their own speciality.


Yearly diary:
January the 16th, the Bonfire for S.Antonio in FilattieraThe area is unique and rich cuisine makes the visitor spoilt for choice, especially, if one has time to follow the 'festas', which has its own yearly diary.
February the feast of the chiodopork sausage cooked in cast iron baking pans.
April, the onions feast in Bagnone.
June polenta and stock fish in Fivizzano.
July brings the focaccetta feast in Olivola di Aulla, bread feast in Regnano, fig feast in Bagnone, Podenzana, the pattona (chestnut pie), and the fungi feast on Mommio di Fivizzano in the autumn season.
December wraps it all up with a Bonfire, in Quercia with VIN brulĂ© and hot chocolate flowing. Now wonder, that people who keep going back can never have enough of these places!
Wishing you endless discovery and happy times, whatever time you choose and whatever activities you do. Walking Lunigiana's and Liguria's beautiful beaches, visiting their native parks, tasting their food, drinking their wine or worshipping their saints, it is always an unforgettable pleasure to me. May joy and merry making stay with you for all time.

Detailed information is available on my website: http://www.holidaylettings.co.uk/147428
Email: info@panniniaproperty.eu
Phone: 07816 605362
Twitter: @EvaGodden

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

WORLD CARD-MAKING DAY, 6 OCTOBER 2012

Hi everyone

It has been hard work keeping up with everything this week.  My (what seems like a) mammoth wedding stationery order is taking on even bigger proportions!  Two steps forward and one step back and the wedding is on Saturday!  I keep telling myself that this time next week, everything will be done and dusted and I can get some semblance of normality back into my life.  As if!

However, my post today (which will also be taking part in Caroline's UK Handmade Thursday blog hop) is about the World Card-Making Day competition I am running via my blog.  I have been lucky enough to get a sponsor for the competition and they have kindly donated three prizes.  A big thank you to Katherine Jewitt, the Editor of new magazine Make and Craft - the first edition of this magazine is due out very soon.  I have subscribed to a digital version of the magazine because I felt that it would be good to have online access to it always as I spend an incredible amount of time super-glued to my computer.  Plus, so much easier for me to store than a paper version.  However, both are available and the subscriptions rates are great value - have a look here for the details and you can even try three copies for £1 of the digital version to see if you like the magazine.  I promise you, you will.

The theme for the World Card-Making Day competition is floral - absolutely anything to do with flowers.  It could be something made of flowers, flowers you have photographed, painted or decoupaged or perhaps like one beautiful card I have already received photographs of,  a quilled design.  It is beautiful and I really wish I could create something like that.  The photograph(s) of your card need to be with me no later than Wednesday, 3 October please and once the judging has taken place, contact details will be passed to Katherine and she will arrange for the prizes to be mailed to the winners.  All cards will be posted on my blog on Saturday, 6 October and I will be asking for everyone to vote for their favourite three.  Prizes will go to the top three.

Some of my guest bloggers have created beautiful cards and I am hoping they will take part in the competition.  In the UK we send more cards than any other country in Europe - so let's keep it going by designing beautiful and original handmade cards.

Jill

Sunday, 16 September 2012

SUNDAY SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Hello everyone

I didn't begin my main post on Saturday as I normally do - only managed to produce the title.  We had one of our regular big family get-together's at my cousin's house in Kent.  We all grew up together, so share lots of childhood and other memories.  The weather was great and as always, the time went far too quickly.  One of my cousin's, Maralyn Wimble, has been approached to hold an exhibition of her work - she is a very creative and imaginative artist and when I have more details about the event I will post them on here.  If you are in or around the area her exhibition is being held, I really do recommend you visit.

The Cycle tour is scheduled to hit Guildford today - my sympathies go out to the riders as Guildford High Street is paved in cobbles!  As it is the end of the race, perhaps the juddering feeling will not be too horrible for them. 


16 September is Celebrating Womanhood Day.  the main part of my post today is focusing on women, and the fabulous contribution we make to the world of handmade, as well as my normal craft and chatty stuff.

My post is not about a specific woman but about all of us involved in the world of handmade. Starting a business is very hard work, starting a business that is about handmade work is even harder.  Not only do we have to deal with the legalities of setting up the business, but we have a mammoth (ongoing) task of persuading and convincing the public that handmade is to be valued, it has been designed and created with care, imagination and expertise and will no doubt last much longer than something that can be bought on the high street.  Handmade today no longer means the knitted tea-cosy or the knitted crinoline doll covering the spare toilet roll.  However, the majority of the public still perceives handmade this way and subsequently undervalues our efforts and we must keep plugging away at changing their minds.  Do we give up?  No, of course not.  Why?  Because we are proud of our work, we believe in what we do and know that not everyone sees us as women who frequent craft fairs lurking behind tables with piles of knitted tea-cosies in front of us.  But, the added bonus here is that as we are women we don't believe in giving in, it's not in our nature.

To all those women who have been thinking about developing their skill into a business, go for it.  It is hard work and initially there will be more tears than smiles, but it is worth it.  When you make your first sale, get your first thank you, your first positive feedback you will know it is the best decision you have ever made and your smile will be bigger than you can imagine.  Good luck, we are not behind you, we are alongside you.

I hope you have been able to read this week's guest blog post?  Madeleine of the Craftsite blogged about cards and her post includes some great tips and beautiful pictures of her work.  Her cards are really lovely - thank you Madeleine for being a guest blogger again, I really enjoyed your post.


This leads me nicely into the World Card Making Day which is on 6 October 2012.  Last year I set up a competition for this event, but it was so close to the actual date that very little time was available for people to take part.  This time around, I am hoping there will be sufficient time for lots of you card-makers to join in.  I am planning on getting a sponsor (or even sponsors ) for this event as I feel it would be so nice to recognise the winning card (or cards) with a gift, so watch this space for news on this as it becomes available.  The theme this year is floral - absolutely anything to do with flowers.  It could be something made of flowers, flowers you have photographed, painted or decoupage - anything really as long as it is floral and it is a card.  Your photographs need to be with me by Wednesday, 3 October please and I will ask the sponsor (or sponsors) to vote for the top three. I do hope you will join in - I have featured some fabulous cards in my guest blog posts and do hope you guest bloggers will take part in this competition.


This also leads me into news about a new magazine (and website).  Have you heard of Make & Craft?  A magazine for the craft community that is edited by the dedicated crafter/craft supporter, Katherine Jewitt.  As the website says: Make & Craft magazine is an inspiring environment featuring contemporary tutorials and projects using a wide variety of supplies and techniques, as well as, reviving traditional crafts worth cherishing.  Make & Craft magazine also brings you  the latest trends, up-to-date products, craft books and supplies, new techniques, sneak peeks behind the scenes of Artists and Crafters, the best online sites, news round ups, a diary of craft events and a whole host of competitions and giveaways.  I recommend you check it out and see all of the goodies available both in the magazine and on the website.

Life is hectic at the moment (it's that tough time of year for crafters isn't it?) as I am rushing towards events that I need to have plenty of stock for.  My first one is on Saturday (details to the right of this post) and I am slightly panicking as my stock is low.  I keep making excuses telling myself that my main ones are in November, so there is plenty of time - however, it would be very wrong to not pay the same attention to my first one this week.  I have discovered that I always have excellent reasons for not doing something!  Perhaps I should write a blog post just using the list of excuses I have invented.  

Around, over, alongside and in between kitten fostering, I have been working on Orders of Service - I am pleased with how they look and very near to finishing them.  Next?  The table plan.  Here is a photograph of the Order of Service - names, etc removed, but I hope you like it.  The ribbon has not been fixed to the card yet, but that's the next job.  The original brief was for the main card to be pearlised cream, but was recently changed to the dark purple used for some of the trims on the invitations - I wasn't too sure at first, but think it is a striking colour combination.



Some time ago I mentioned the weird and wonderful search terms that have led people to my blog - I haven't added any for a while, but couldn't resist including these today (again, no change made to the grammar or spelling):

crafts with bricks
my oh my apple pie and country craft
posh crafts for christmas

Aren't they wonderful?

That's me finished for today - back to work now.  Do get in touch if you would like to be a guest blogger or if you want to join in the Card Making competition.  Everyone is welcome and if you are not a card-maker, why not give it a try - you could discover a new talent or an addition to your business.  I will be back on Wednesday and don't forget to come back on Friday to read my guest blogger's post.

Last but not least, some up-to-date pics of Ash and Micro.  They are growing very quickly and should be very soon be off to their new home.





Jill

Thursday, 13 September 2012

TODAY'S GUEST BLOGGER IS......


Hi All,

It’s Madeleine from Craftsite again.

With budgets being squeezed all round as prices rise I thought that today I would write about money saving tips for card making. This article is aimed not only at individual card makers but the vast army of those who make and sell cards for charity and really need to keep their costs down.

First, I never buy cheap materials if cheap means compromising on quality – it’s false economy. A card must be able to stand up and I would recommend a card weight minimum of 225 gsm for card making or an even heavier for those larger cards, such as A5 and 8 x 8 – Craftsite’s creased card packs for larger size cards are made with 300 gsm card. It’s the same with embellishments, especially if you are selling cards, as a card made with quality card embellishments will be more likely to sell. The card below uses 240 gsm cardstock, a pretty backing paper and embellishment but costs only 63p to make.


 Look out for genuine value for money bargains and this is the best time of the year to do it. Right now the new Christmas stock is coming in to retailers and most retailers just don’t have the space for it all. Some of our suppliers are in the same boat when it comes to available space so many of our special offers at the moment are at way below wholesale prices. The card below was made with holographic card (30% off RRP) and a bauble die cut topper (35p for an A4 sheet of 8 die cut toppers). The glitter card and coloured card were left over from previous projects so this card cost just a few pence to make.


Look around the house for items that you can recycle into your card making. – buttons, old beads, pearl envelopes (these sometimes come with junk mail in them – throw away the junk mail but keep the envelope for punching shapes). Just be imaginative. This card was made using an aperture card and florist’s ribbon. If you have a die cutting machine you don’t even have to buy the aperture card. Cut your own shape on a piece of oblong scrap card, add the ribbon or whatever else you’ve found, and mount it onto a card blank.


Save the gift wrapping after opening your presents. This card was made using cut Christmas wrapping paper.


Just be careful when recycling, especially recycling old cards, that you are not breaching copyright. Use bits and pieces from cards, e.g. bows, rather than the designs themselves.

Have a go at making your own backing papers with stamps. Pick a background stamp that you’ll use over and over again – Craftsite has nearly 90 ink colours so you should always be able to get a matching colour for your project and it can save hours of searching craft shops for the right shade of backing paper that you need.


The stamp wasn’t large enough to cover the whole of the paper so I stamped the top and bottom and used ribbon to hide the gap.

Stamps in general are a good investment as they can be used over and over again. Look at the stamps you have and ask if they can be used in a different way, e.g. a stamp of a country cottage could be used for new home; birthday card; or add snow to the roof with crystal glitter or stickles and you have a Christmas card. It’s amazing the different looks that can be obtained using the same stamp. These 2 cards use the Prima En Francais stamp but glitter has been applied to one of them and the other coloured using Tim Holtz distress markers.



If you like decoupage take a look at the pictures and see if the design can be split into 2 – many of them can. If you can get 2 cards from the same decoupage design then a sheet of 4 step by step decoupage prints can make 8 cards. Splitting a design also means that your finished card is thinner and if you use 1mm thick instead of 3mm thick foam pads your card could squeeze into Royal Mail’s letter rather than large letter category resulting in a saving on postage too. Both the cards below were made using the same decoupage picture and each card cost just under £1 to make.



Some of the cards used in this article are available along with step by step instructions on how to make them in the Craftsite Gallery and you’ll find more ideas for making budget cards in our Card Making Ideas – Economical Cards section.

If you’d like to keep up to date with new card projects please like my Facebook page .

Have a good weekend.

Madeleine

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CRAFTER (AND TEMPORARY KITTEN FOSTERER)

Hi everyone

Those of you who drop in on Wednesday know that my mid-week blog post is not always focused on crafting, but this week it is.  The main reason is so that I can take part in Week 2 of Caroleecrafts Blogging Thursday event.  My post will be published at the normal time (or around the normal time) on Wednesday and on Thursday morning, I will link to the Thursday Blogging event and visit the other blogs taking part.

Because of being involved in a large job at the moment, I don't have anything completed to post on here today, so I thought a day in the life of a crafter (as in me) would be my post.

My 'Crafting Day' is always a mix of things.  In my mind I produce a plan to accomplish a lot of work, but my plans don't always come to fruition.  However, once up and about my day will begin with a large cup of coffee and breakfast for my two cats (plus, at the moment, the kittens I am fostering).  While consuming my coffee and some Rich Tea biscuits (great with coffee) I answer emails that have come in late the previous evening or during the night.  I also check Twitter and Facebook to see if anything needs answering, but also to 'chat' with two local Tweeters I have become friendly with over the last few months.  During the day I will drop in and out of Twitter, answer any private messages that have arrived, reply to tweets that are for me, re-tweet any posts that I feel need a wider audience and also re-tweet the guest blog post from last Friday, and I regularly check my emails.

Once the early morning 'chores' are out of the way, I begin work.  Up to August 2011 I was a wage slave, often working around 35 hours spread over three days.  The beauty of being self-employed is that, yes I may do long hours, but I can choose when to do them and I enjoy what I do.  I get up very early and will begin work early - I find I am more productive in those first few hours than at any other time during the day.  Old habits die hard.  I can, and frequently do, work during the evening while watching the television - however, most of the time I couldn't tell you what I have watched because I often find I haven't really watched anything!

I would love to say I am an organised crafter, but I am not.  I start work on something and very often move onto something else that has caught my imagination.  I find that unless I am working on an order, I am a butterfly crafter - flitting from one 'make' to another.  In a way, I need the structure that working for someone else brings to a working day.  At times during the day, I will stop crafting to do some research on the Internet for ideas, suppliers, other blogs to read, new resources to buy or, even better, freebies such as decoupage downloads.  Very often this leads to me getting side-tracked by something that catches my eye (occasionally nothing to do with crafting).

Yesterday was slightly different to the norm as a friend of mine, Linda, is starting up in business selling her jams and chutneys, as well as wedding and Christmas cakes, and having been there, done that and worn the T-shirt, it was great to be able to give her some advice on what she needs to do to get up and running.  (Actually when you look at it in a list it is quite frightening, and I wonder why we all rush madly into it.)  She is helping me at my first event on 22 September - the bride and groom I am making wedding stationery for have invited me to their church service, which is right in the middle of my first event but not too far from the event venue, thank goodness.  This will be a good opportunity for Linda to see first-hand what managing a stall is like, plus she can promote her business while she is there.

Today included a long telephone conversation with the bride I am producing wedding stationery for.  We have finalised the Order of Service and discussed potential layouts for the Table Plan.  I have really enjoyed this particular commission and you can see a photograph of the Wedding Invitation here.  This is a side of my business that I want to expand and my hairdresser (off to see her tomorrow) has kindly said she will help the promotion by handing out my wedding business card to her clients.

My plan for the rest of today is to start work on a range of Christmas cards I have been planning for a while.  I can't get any further on the Orders of Service until this evening, so I can leave those for a while without feeling too guilty.

As you can see, there is no such thing as a normal or ordinary day when you are a self-employed crafter - but isn't that the best part?  Doing something you really enjoy and doing it when you want to.

I hope you have enjoyed my post - I am looking forward to reading the other blog posts tomorrow of those crafters taking part in Caroline's UK Handmade Blogging Thursday.

Jill

Sunday, 9 September 2012

LOTS OF GORGEOUS SUNNY SUNSHINE

Hi everyone

What a fabulous week!  Okay, the nights are cool and the mornings a little chilly, but the days have been amazing.  Warm (well hot really), sunny, little breeze - just wonderful and so very welcome.  Long may it last.

A crafty week - or not

Because it seems to take me ages to write my BIG blog post, and I normally begin doing so some time on Saturday, at this stage I am not too sure if I will have anything ready to post for Handmade Monday - a 'make' that is - but, who knows, by the end this may have changed.

First of all I have a request for my fellow Handmade Monday-ers.  As you know, I have a guest spot on Fridays and what you may not know is that many of those who have taken part are members of the Handmade Monday bloggers.  I know blog-commenting can be an issue and is very much a personal choice, and I do not want to get into the rights and wrongs of commenting here.  What I am asking is that as our aim for Handmade Monday is to support fellow crafters, will you occasionally spare a few minutes on a Friday to visit my guest blogger's post and leave a comment please?  There are some fellow bloggers who visit and comment every Friday without fail and that is very much appreciated by myself and the guest bloggers.  Whilst we all love writing our own blog posts, it isn't easy to write a guest post - we are never 100% sure if what we have written is going to be what the host blogger (or their followers) is looking for.  Support from you would be very welcome for those guest bloggers that take part in Handmade Monday and I guarantee you will read some really great posts.

How about making last Friday's your first visit?  It is a great post by Kat Shenton about 5 ways to make yourself a better crafter.  It is a serious post written with humour; a great post and one to make you stop and think.  Thank you Kat, I really enjoyed it and you can see there are already some comments for you to read.

Unfortunately, by the time I completed this blog post I didn't have anything handmade to post on here, but as I have spent time this week advertising and working on getting my craft workshops sorted out, here is a pic of my post-card ad that I have been placing around the village noticeboards (I will let you know in future posts how things progress):


Before I forget, I am no further forward with Vistaprint and the problems I have been having with my website!  Boy oh boy, how hard can it be to sort out the width of a website and the resulting colour?  I am fed up receiving emails telling me: You will receive a response from us regarding the issue you are having after the Technical team have managed to resolve it.  Perhaps there is only one person in their Technical team and they are overloaded with website problems.

The Christmas Pie every day news

It has been a jam-packed kitten week here at Christmas Pie Crafts (I am taking regular photographs as I think they may make some lovely cards in the future - er, do I need to get their written permission to use their photographs??)  I parted company on Wednesday with my two little black kittens - following their second jabs and micro-chipping they went off to their new home in Windlesham.  However, they were soon replaced with Ash and Micro - Ash (almost needless to say) is grey and Micro is black and white - so called because she was very, very tiny when born.  They are lovely, great fun and exhausting!  A family came to view them on Saturday afternoon and will be deciding over the weekend if they are just what they are looking for - I hope so because they deserve a nice home.  An update: yesterday's visitors are going to adopt Ash and Micro - they rang the Woking office not long after their visit, so the kittens clearly made a big impression.  Here is a pic of the now-homed kittens:


A friend and I had planned to go to Wisley yesterday, but didn't make it after all.  However, I did manage to get a whole lot of plant moving and new planting completed yesterday, so it was a successful day.  So nice not to have a hosepipe ban as there was a lot of watering needed.  More gardening this morning as well as the car we sold last week is being collected this afternoon.  Existing with one car will last a little longer as the car we are buying is not available until late-ish September.

A friend (the afore-mentioned Wisley one) is spending the afternoon with us and I can see much sparkle (liquid that is) along with nibbles and natters.

Another busy week looming.  I must finish the Orders of Service for my bride and groom and also work on their table plan.  Trips to the vet with Ash and Micro are also in my diary, plus meeting up with a friend who is starting up a jams and chutneys business.  I also need to get down to some Christmas stock-making as my first event is only two weeks away.  No more booked after that until November, but I feel that it would be crazy not to have some Christmas stock available for this first event.

I am off to lounge in the sunshine now - hope you all have a good week and don't forget to visit the other blogs taking part in this week's Handmade Monday event.  If you would like to be a guest blogger, please do get in touch on christmaspiecrafts@virginmedia.com.  I will be back on Wednesday with my mid-week post and don't forget to drop in on Friday for this week's guest blog post.

Jill

Friday, 7 September 2012

TODAY'S GUEST BLOGGER IS....


ways to makes yourself a better crafter:

Some of you I know, some of you I don't. Some of you I will have met, most of you I won't. So here is me in a nutshell:

Okay, on a serious note: Me in a Nutshell, near 17 year worth of retail and sales experience in the Rat Race and looking to tear down the shroud and jump from full time bored monster to full time craft monster.

So I thought I would share with you my top 5 tips on what I strive to achieve that helps me to be a better crafter.

1. Don't stress out!

Might be easier said than done, and I will put my hands up, I am my own worst enemy. But be honest - what is it going to achieve? Screaming at your other half you have to get 13 orders done by midnight tonight isn't going to get the order done any quicker is it? Nope, in fact it will give you a headache, bad back, sour disposition and your family ain't gonna be impressed! So do what I do. If I feel that red eyed monster peeking at me from under a cushion I stop what I'm doing and take my mind off of things by jumping on the computer, reading a book, watching a film or running down to Iceland to buy a bag of potato smilie faces (not joking - how can potatoes that smile not chill you out?).

2. Never forget your dream.

If you think you are running into a rut by doing the same thing day in and day out, then remember this. Every item you create it is a little part of the dream you want to create. For every plaque you knock out, regardless of how much you have come to hate that phrase, someone will own that - in turn they are owning a little bit of your dream. For every bit you sell, the bigger your dream gets! So down the frown and put up pictures that inspire you. Art that gets you thinking. Surround yourself with the things you love... and I love these guys ;)

  

3. Plan for everything, but plan for nothing.

By that I mean create a plan. I have a 2 year plan that started but a month ago. On the very top it's basic - I want to give up my 8-6 job in two year time and become a full time craft seller. Then I break it down (please pop over to my blog to start reading how I have set my plan up). However, and here's the key, if you plan everything down to the last minute... you will achieve nothing. It's the unwritten law. So, have a plan, follow the plan, but fit the plan into the time you know you have not the time you think you have.

4. Mix it up.

I started out with nothing but beads and pliers and I knocked out jewellery after bookmark after brooch. Then I started to get bored and was annoyed when I got asked to make yet 'another of those lovely bracelets that you made Aunt Jane' (I don't have an Aunt Jane by the way). So I went out and bought myself a sewing machine. Knocked out a couple of denim bags. Bought some embroidery hoops. Knocked out... well I am not sure what I was trying to create on the first couple of tries but I have improved ;) What I'm saying is variety is the spice of life - just don't spill it on velvet because you can never get the smell out.


5. Finally...

Live hard, die young and leave a good looking corpse ;)


Thank you very much I'll be here all Friday :D

Kat Shenton