Monday, 30 January 2012

Taking stock...

Sometimes you just have to reflect a little, it always does you good to take stock. I was asked to take part in something a while back and totally forgot all about it until today. If you're a woman in business and have never heard of  the FEA  then you should check it out - inspiring real stories from inspiring real women. Grab a coffee and a choccie biccie and go have a good read.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Another "me" post

Wooahhh I'm getting so selfish! crafting for me! who'dathunk it! My world must have gone mad!

Y'all know by now how much I love and love and love Elisabeth Bell's designs so here I am with another make. This is one of my favourite stamps from our Belles n Whistles range. I made this heart box whilst I was supposed to be prepping for my last TV show, I had no idea why I was making it mid-prep, my fingers just suddenly went off in another direction and I knew I didnt have time to be getting distracted with being on such a tight deadline but make it I did. Then I decided it was too nice to get lost on TV and then get stuck in the samples box and filed away to only see daylight for another show and I kept it on the side waiting to be decorated up when I had more time and could be more girlified and more liberal with what I wanted to do with it (TV samples can be a bit restricted in what you're allowed to use). So here it is, my little Valentine's box, and I love it so I'm keeping it for me me me! I'm also entering this into the Elisabeth Bell's Hearts, Hearts, Hearts challenge this month too. This is pic heavy but below is also how to make it so I hope you all like it too...

To make the box all I did was make a big heart shape, use that as a template to make another but make it a couple of millimetres larger all the way around (or make one smaller if it's easier!). Then cut some long strips of card about 1.5" wide, score at 0.5" right along the edge and fringe that scored section at about 5mm intervals all the way along edge, cutting in to the score line. I had to make 2 to fit around the whole heart, join them together with a strong glue.

Now fold back all those little fringey bits and fit the strip around the edge of the smaller heart to make the sides of the box, gluing as you go with a nice strong wet glue. The neater you can be with the edges the better so you might find you need to snip into the segments a little more to make it fit better, and it is worth it for the neater finish. Either glue the fringe under the heart or inside if you're going to decorate inside the box. It's actually really easy but just a tad fiddley diddley so make sure you do it before you add any nice decorations.

Now you need to do exactly the same to make a lid but this time you have to make sure the lid fits outside the base, hence making that 2nd heart a little bigger. Little tip - if you actually make the heart for the lid even bigger you can have an overlap and that makes it a bit more forgiving in terms of getting it all neat and tidy. Hence having the ruffley ribbon as it is hiding a multitide of sins, dont think I sat making this for hours, it was a quick job I can tell you! Once you're happy it all fits you can decorate! Great for adding little chocolates inside as a giftbox! hmm may use it as a look what seems to have popped out when I took the lid off! ; )

Friday, 27 January 2012

It's time for Diddydoodles today! 
Do you have under 16's who love to craft? If you do please tell them about our fab new challenge blog - we'd love to see what they can do and we ask our favourites each time to be Guests on the next challenge so it helps keep them motivated in their crafting! 
I've been amazed at how great these youngsters are and how grown up all their cards are. Ok, so maybe some have a little bit of help from a grown up but I have no doubt that most of the work is all theirs! I LOVE that kids are so into craft, it's just brilliant and starting off the Diddydoodles challenge is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding things we've done at Polkadoodles, I just love it! The team are setting the challenges themselves, doing the comments and choosing the winners so all I do each time is just blog the post because I really want it to be THEIR blog, not mine! So come on you adults, get the kids in your life crafting! I know all our Design Team are totally thrilled to be involved and are telling everyone at school, checking their entries in ICT lessons etc - all their teachers are very impressed! Don't you think it's great that they are so motivated and who knows, maybe we're helping to inspire them to be a great artist or designer or have a business when they leave school, it makes me jump up and down for joy, I tell you!

Please stop by the Diddydoodles blog and leave them a comment, their work really is amazing! thankyou!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Stuff of dreams....




...ouch, ouch, ouch....
If I had the money I would just buy to stand on my shelf and look at them...and people ask where I get my inspiration from lol....

Friday, 20 January 2012

Polkadoodles Challenge - Sketch & Blog Candy

Friday again, where does the time go?!

Over on Polkadoodles blog today we have reached a milestone 1000 followers - woohooo!!  So we're giving away extra blog candy, make sure you check it out! And we have a great challenge too so have a look and get your entries in!

It's been a busy old week here but a bit of an unproductive one for me so no card from me this week - I spent last Saturday and Sunday with my Colour Studio Workshops in the company of a lovely group of ladies on both days. We had much laughter, cake and food thanks to a lovely venue and I worked those girls hard for the day LOL! I think their fingers were almost bleeding by the time they left! Both days were totally fab and I think there were a few firm friendships made around the room - nothing can forge friendships like crafting I think! So many thanks to everyone who came and if you didn't I think you missed an awesome couple of days.  We will be scheduling some more for later in the year so watch out for further dates coming up soon.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Dont get mad, get even...

At the moment flowers are everywhere in craft. And I mean everywhere!
I love flowers, as does everyone else it seems. They can turn a mediocre project into something beaut at the drop of a hat. And all-white projects are everywhere too.
The other thing that's everywhere right now in craft is thievery.
Yep, that's right, good old idea (and copyright) theft. Although this isn't just with craft, it's with everything. Particularly rife at the moment because of the recession. Also there aren't any new innovations coming through into the craft market. I think the last big innovation we had was the launch of the Cricut machine and a few months later the Cuttlebug and the wonder of its embossing folders, which is a good 4/5 years ago now. When these huge companies stop investing money into R&D of new machines and gadgets everything becomes a bit stale and that's the effect of the recession, simple as (in my opinion) - if people stop buying stash, the development stops. I get a bit mad when I hear people having a moan about no new products on Create and Craft, not enough this, not enough that, blahdy blahdy. People, it's simple: It's a SHOPPING channel. Quite simply they are there to sell you stuff. If they show CD's all the time it's because they are selling lots of them! If they start to show you loads of Clarity Stamps it's because they're selling loads! They don't won't and never will show you things that don't sell very well because they have to make money, just like everyone else does. And along with that, it's not all about the channel making money, the suppliers (of which I am one) also have to make money. And some things just aren't worth my time and effort taking to TV because I can't sell them for a profit, even a tiny profit. So to all those people who at the moment are going on about QVC not delivery craft shows, have a word with yourselves! QVC are a giant in the world of TV shopping and if they can't make money bringing you craft then they ain't going to, no matter how much blarney the presenters throw at you across the screen "we're having a sale to clear the stock for new stock coming in". Of course you are, love. Every business brings in new stock all the time. At Polkadoodles we do the same, stock control is an important part of any business. Get it right and you rarely need to have sales because your stock flows in and out correctly, get it wrong and overstock or buy the wrong products in and you've got problems and need to get it shifted out. We rarely have to do a sale because quite simply, I'm really fussy about the products we do stock and if we get something which doesnt sell well we reduce it straight away so our prices are always pretty keen.
Anyway, I'm rambling. How on earth did I get onto all that? What I actually wanted to whine about today was people nicking other people's ideas and passing them off as their own being rife.
So, going back to when Provocraft launched the Cricut, we'd just opened our first shop and were one of the first in the UK to stock Cricut. Oh my, how I loved my trusty steed! Obviously the Craft Robo was around at the time but you needed to be a bit of a PC whizz and I just wanted something to plug and play and so did my customers. I used to spend an hour with a customer demo'ing what the machine would do (I knew it inside out and I WAS Cricut Queen). Half those customers who let me waste an hour of my time would then go and buy it somewhere else for a tenner cheaper I have to tell you, so I stopped stocking the machine in the end, what was the point? Yes, they all used to come in asking me how to do stuff though didn't they. Anyway at the time I was playing around one day and I had a brilliant idea. White flowers. On the forum at the time some of the more creative people were making bouquets but they were all flat. They would take the cricut flowers on a cartridge, cut them and then put them on a stick. Flat. I pulled out a mountain of white card and I made dozens and dozens of flowers in different shapes, changing the sizes by going through each increment. I had an idea in my head and this was what I wanted to achieve....
And this, my friends, was (to my knowledge) the first ever all-white project of full on 3D flowers that started a worldwide trend back in September 2007. The Cricut forum went wild over it. Instantly people copied the idea of making an all-white project and then started in colour making their own 3D flowers, my post had 1000's and 1000's of views - why had no-one ever thought of doing this before? I didn't and don't care that people copied it, if I had I would never have unveiled it to the world. I'm a bit miffed the picture isn't the best and the vase (yes the entire thing is card) is long gone now after it got a bit trashed in the shop move which is a bit sad, I'd have liked to have kept it really as even the flower stalks are made by hand too and aren't straws.
My point is, I made this just BEFORE Prima came along and hit our shelves. I have no doubt in my mind, and yes it's a big claim and one I've never made publicly before, that this very project started off the trend for making flowers as we have it now across the world of papercrafting and I know I have witnesses LOL! So I just do get a little bit peeved when I go to blogs or magazines and see projects similar to this and they are hailed as a new trend and what a stunning idea blah blah and those people NEVER seem to give credit to anyone else, you should always link back to where you got your inspiration from, there's no shame in doing so, we all glean inspiration from each other all the time, just give credit where and when it is due please! I'm not saying I want all the credit for every single flower created right now but my point is that I am proud that this project started all of that. So it doesn't really matter that I never got any credit for it because down in the back of my heart I know that I started it off and that's all that counts to me.
Back in the early days of the Cricut forum there were many people who ensured that I did get full credit for the inspiration when people tried to steal it and I thank all of those who did that, it really meant a lot at the time, but 4 years on I know I am long forgotten over on  I go on there now and then and people are still posting similar projects and getting all sorts of glory for things they shouldn't. I do think it's funny though how this trend started all the way back then and there hasn't really been anything else come along in the meantime has there.
Of course, I had to try and top the project didnt I and this was the next one I made in Dec 2007 which was actually out on display in the shop at the time...
Click to play ho ho ho
If this doesnt play then try this link which will take you back to my old blog ....

So, all I'm trying to say is...don't feel like you have to steal someone else's ideas to be deemed creative. Everyone is creative in their own way and one person's cup of tea is another's idea of hell, we all like different things so stop trying to beat a tune to someone else's drum, just do what YOU like.  Passion in what you do is everything and I wholeheartedly believe that shines through in your crafting. You can tell the people who do it because they just love it and don't care what other people think, their card or layout may not be the best in the world but you can tell when  you look at it that every single element was placed specifically and that person took 10 minutes to place it there and changed their mind 6 times when they were doing it and probably took a couple of hours to make a card which should only have taken 15 minutes to put together. But it doesnt matter because they loved making it and it's theirs. All theirs. And all their own ideas. Be passionate with your crafting, it shows.
I just remembered what got me rambling...Diddydoodles. Diddydoodles is our new under 16's challenge blog. Someone else launched a similar one a week after we did this. I'm not saying Diddydoodles is the only one in the world, it's not. But this person who launched the other one follows me on Twitter. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. Just like my good friend Leandra who always gets her stamp ideas copied. And my good friend Kate who makes the best Brownies in the world and gets all her ideas nicked too. It's rife. Don't do it, get your own ideas, how can you ever think of a good idea if you're too busy copying everyone else instead? And  yes, it is the biggest form of flattery blah blah blah when you're copied, we all say it. But really - we all get narked by it, no matter what we say. I see Polkadoodles copies everywhere these days, some blatant, some not so blatant, I try to ignore it but every now and then I just have to have a little moan. Moan over for now!  x

Friday, 6 January 2012

Polkadoodles Challenge - Wk1 sketch

One of my biggest tips to anyone who is struggling with mojo for their cardmaking or scrapbooking is to try sketches.  They really do help massively.
Very often when I'm prepping for TV shows where I have to have 10 demo's up my sleeve through the course of a couple of shows (yes, we usually do have to prep that many even if we only ever get to show one!) I can really struggle to come up with loads of different ideas in one go as I tend to be in a "zone" with something and I know a lot of you probably work that way too. It very much depends on what stash I have around me as to what I end up with, I don't have the mental capacity to remember to use xyz when they're all put away in drawers and boxes, I need the visual stimulation to inspire me.
And that's where sketches come in. A quick scribble on a post it note really does help - if you've never given it a whirl before then you should especially if you're sat staring at a piece of paper for more than 5 mins. You don't need to draw, you don't even need imagination - just draw some squares and circles and lay them out, overlapping and choose the one you prefer. The bonus is you can keep all the sketches in a folder or a box as an inspiration pile later on if you need them! If you're batch card making this is a good way to make the same card design but to have them all a little different - really what you're doing is thinking about the positioning of your mats and layers which are the outline and frames of what you actually design. Don't forget, you can make a sketch and then turn it round 3 times to get 4 entirely different looking cards - are you getting it now?  Go on, give it a try, I bet you're amazed how easy and effective it is. When I don't have time to sit for an hour looking at a piece of paper thinking of what to do this is my method and it works a treat for me.
Right, enough rambling, it's my turn to set this week's Polkadoodles blog challenge and yes, you guessed it, I did a sketch!
I sort of cheated a little bit as the actual theme was supposed to  be Shades of Grey but I forgot when I made the card LOL!! So mine isn't shades of grey at all!  This is the card I made using Kuretake's Kurecolor markers for the day 22 advent calendar just before Christmas. There's a full tutorial over there for this so check it out here for a how to.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Saturday 7th Jan

Hi everyone! Just a quick post to let you know that I'll be on Create and Craft on Sat 7th Jan at 11am and 4pm, hopefully with a few new ideas and a bit of inspiration for you. See you there! xx

SC&P 5th Jan

Hello everyone.
Starting today each month in Simply Cards & Papercraft magazine you will find me with a double page tutorial on colouring techniques. Hopefully each month we will have a giveaway with some fab products from some of your favourite brands too. This issue I have gone for a Monochrome look with a colour highlight - the highlight this month being red. I think this is perfect for a Valentinesy look, now the smoochy season is coming up!
This month the lovely guys at Letraset have kindly agreed to give away 5 sets of Grey Promarkers and Flexmarkers which I used in the tutorials to lucky readers so make sure you grab your copy and enter to win! Greys are an absolute must-have in your collection as far as I'm concerned. Here are the projects I made for this issue, which is out today...

So make sure you go and grab your copy of this month's issue from your newsagent - Simply Cards and Papercraft, and I'll see you in next month's issue soon! x

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year, New card.

Hi everyone, Happy New Year's Day!

I hope everyone had a lovely step forward from the old to the new and isn't suffering too many bad heads this morning! Although it's been Christmas and I was supposed to have some time off I am shattered, I've been so busy this week getting things ready for the new Pen & Paper Circle first issue and launching Diddydoodles, I feel like I havent stopped!

In my quest to be a better blogger this year I thought I would get off to a good start by sharing another Elisabeth Bell card with you all which I made this afternoon whilst watching the most atrocious New Years Eve TV! I decided to choose Flowers, Lace and Pearls as my tic tac toe (dont you just love that phrase, so much more poetic than the English Noughts and Crosses!) and as it's nearing my birthday (better to forget that  in hindsight!) I decided to use one of my favourite stamps...
 ...I love this stamp, she is treasuring that cupcake just the way I do myself...before I take a massive bite that is!!!  I'm not massively keen on the colouring on this, I was when I did it but now when I look back her tunic doesnt look finished, although I think it's the photo which is too high in contrast maybe, the shadows are much softer in real life and I think it's also down to the Flexmarkers still working their magic after you walk away! (sorry but I cant be bothered to re-photograph it when I've put my camera away and tidied up!).
I love the pink polka dot ribbon on this, it's actually fabric which I've had stashed for ages that I made into a ribbon. The flowers are handcut from felt (the rough look was intentional LOL) which I made one night...I seem to be really into making EVERYTHING at the moment rather than using shop produced stuff for some reason.
Now, before I go, come on, own up...who was it?
We saw a report yesterday which said our local sewage works had reported some of the strange things they'd found over Christmas...apparently there were several Christmas trees which people had  shoved down drains...WHAT THE??? WHO would do that????....I mean, COME ON, people!! REALLY?? Man, there are some stupid planks out there.... Not to mention loads of soft toys, decorations etc...the one that made us laugh most in this house though...the X Factor Little Mix Christmas CD single had also turned up!  No doubt flushed down the loo in a fit of rage by some ungrateful recipient do you think??!! I feel like emailing them to let them know how popular they are!...pppfffft!
See you all soon x