Thursday, 31 May 2007

Birthday Post

Birthday shopping is great, especially on the internet cos then you get post as well! Lots of fun. It's still not yet my birthday but my post yesterday was particularly awesome cos I got all of these wonderful things!
A gorgeous shopping tote from LAMdesigns (perfect for my tea and crockery obsessions!), "Fluke the Mutant Cardinal" postcards from BirdNerd and an awesome special birthday suprise from Jane aka Memake:
How lovely is that? Don't know yet what I will sew it to, but I am sooo pleased with it, it is so nice and it was made just for me! I feel so special :D

In the meantime I got crazy gifts from the boyfriend (who will be in Wales on my actual birthday), and presents from my family when they visited yesterday - my dad bought me a fancy printer! We've been stuck with a doddering old black&white effort so I am delighted to get my hands on an all-singing all-dancing PSC machine.

Typically, I was just as pleased with the paper things came wrapped in as the gifts themselves (I am such a paper addict) - the three on the left are from IKEA, apparently, and the fourth is from wherever my friend Pip buys his wrapping paper :) The pattern on the blue is silver (the picture doesn't show it too clearly), just gorgeous.
Other than opening presents and generally being quite thoroughly spoilt, I have not been doing very much. I did manage to finish my first set of little felt ornaments...
... and I made a start on my first ever beaded brooch:
I don't know yet how the brooch will look when it is finished, but I'm very pleased with how the beading turned out. I have a few more of the beads left so will try and do something with those (and that lovely minty green felt that matches them so well) in the next day or so. I need to get my secret swap item sorted, too... Ah, the housework it is going to be so neglected! :D

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Swapping Swapping Swapping

So over at the swap group we have been swapping quite a lot of supplies.

So far we have swapped: 1 mystery beaded thing, some vintage bits, 1 pile of felt, 1 pendant, 1 set of brushes, 21 sets of beads (crystal, plastic, wood, glass, all sorts of things!), 1 devil duck, 1 piece of driftwood, 2 packs of sculpey, 2 reels of wire, 3 tubes of glitter glue, 30 chandelier crystals, three balls of wool, 1 length of bead elastic, 1 necklace, some fibres, 4 card blanks, 3 packs of card and paper bits, 2 packs of children's playing cards, 4 sets of buttons, 3 zips, 24 pieces of fabric, 3 bundles of stickers, 1 heart toggle, 1 pack of seashells, 1 set of wavy straws, some velcro, some eyelets, a pack of click fasteners, some cord, 2 agate slices, some fake flowers, 3 wooden cotton reels, 2 bundles of chains, some pegs, a bundle of mohair plaits, some sea glass, a crochet magazine, an old brooch, some luggage tags, a pack of magnetic paper, some keyring bits, 1 design CD, an assortment of embroidery threads, a badge, two pieces of ribbon, three packs of sequins, some silk tops, a pack of snap fasteners, 3 bundles of assorted jewellery findings, two pieces of pompom trim, some bias binding, 1 piece of beaded fringe, gold leaf, a book about bead weaving, several papier mache boxes, 2 glass rings, 1 embroidery transfer, some rolags, a pack of funky foam, a belt buckle, some handmade ceramic cabs, some metal powders, two sets of rubber stamps, 1 set of paints, a guillotine, 1 pair of shoes, a pack of oil pastels, some raffia, some silk paint, some feathers... and a piece of driftwood!

Just a few things, then! :)

Monday, 28 May 2007

Intentions and Internet Searches

Brr. It is ridiculously cold here. It's Bank Holiday Monday so naturally is is freezing cold and absolutely tipping it down...

If it stays cold this week, I shall be curling up under a blanket, drinking lots of cups of tea and attending to my sewing. I have lots of brooches and mobiles floating around in my brain that I want to get made, and I also have yet to make anything for this month's flower-themed UK Etsy Challenge. The deadline is 1pm on Thursday so only three days away, so I don't rate my chances at having anything finished! There are already loads of great entries, it is going to be so difficult to select a favourite to vote for :)

Oh, and I have found out who I am making an item for in the UK Etsy team's secret swap. I've been given a few clues as to what they might like, and I do have a couple of ideas, but as the item has to be in the post no later than 10th June I had better get cracking. I must admit to having a small bit of performance anxiety though, not least cos the person I am making stuff for makes THE most impressive things.

In all this rain I have been sitting on the computer idling my time away and I discovered yesterday that my entry for a previous challenge, the pants challenge, has been used over on Gizmodo Japan to illustrate anti-fart pants!
The lovely Anna translated the article for me: "If you've let off a smelly one these will make it like it never happened. Gas-medic pants which absorb 99% of the smell of your fart have arrived. The secret is the scientific film with enough layers to cover 10 football fields which instantly absorbs the smell of the fart. It is perfect for normal farts but also great for those who suffer from stomach problems. All we need now is something that stops the noise of the farts then it would be perfect." Ha ha ha.

Searching for my stuff, I also found that my colourful mobile has been featured on the awesome Softies Central blog. That blog is just so inspiring and generally amazing, I am sooo pleased to see my stuff on there!

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Felt!

Back from Hobbycraft with my felt SCORE. Went via the market, too. Basically I now own ALL the felt. In the world. Ever. Oh, and also two reels of lovely thread, and a small embroidery hoop :)
Hurrah for half price offers, I say. Oh, and buy-one-get one free on the patterned stuff, too. Again I say hurrah.Patterned felt is totally fascinating stuff. The camo pattern came in handy before when I made a custom army bear for a friend, & I've just started making something with the blue polka-dots as part of my current blue & green sewing madness. These three are all destined to be brooches:

Post, Glorious Post

I have been getting an awful lot of nice post lately. This is mostly due to 1) the fun and frolicks that is the supplies swap group and 2) my continued birthday shopping on Etsy.

Over the past couple of weeks I got all of these delicious goodies through my letter box:
... a floral fat quarter & vintage embroidery transfer from rosehip71 (and two of her lovely collage postcards), mini zips from snowberrylime, and lovely bundle of luggage tags from thedevilswallpaper. Oh, the things I will be able to make using these! I can't wait.

Today this huge bundle of parcels arrived at my door:
... how exciting is that?? Inside parcel no.1 was 15 more swapped chandelier crystals from greygoat, so I will be able to make just loads of mobiles (hurrah!). The crystals came parcelled in an old brown paper shopping bag (with handles still in tact) which she apologised for but I love quirky recycled packaging ideas and may well steal that one. This tumbled out, too...
Such a sweet touch! Parcel no.2 was also from the lovely Kate, aka greygoat: oil pastels (probably going to be used by my very talented sister, soon to be selling her art via my Etsy shop) and a guillotine (which was totally on my wishlist, so I am rather pleased to be able to pay for one with swap points alone!).
Parcel no.3? Swapped stickers from thedominoeffect - and yesterday some stickers arrived from craftyannieUK, too. I've not managed to take pics of these yet (my camera battery died before I got a chance) but I will do soon. They are all very fun outline stickers that I'll be using to make more little thankyou cards and to jazz up my recycled packaging. I love to send colourful parcels.

Finally, parcel no.4 contained a genuine bonafide purchase. As part of my Etsy birthday notecard shopping spree, I succumbed to the irresistable charms of bunny's "Octogirl" notecards. Printed with her new gocco printer, these are just gorgeous (if she gets very busy with that gocco then I fear for my bank balance in future, I really do).
Bunny's attention to detail is wonderful. All the cards are beautifully wrapped, first in ribbon and then in cellophane secured with a little octogirl sticker:
... and she included a proper (and very lovely) thankyou card, too (pictured here with a bundle of her business cards, so I can pimp her wares in my own Etsy parcels).
Marvellous stuff.

We (the long-suffering boyf and I) are off to Hobbycraft this afternoon as rumour has it that there's a 2-for-1 deal on felt, and how could I resist something like that? So hopefully I will return later with another exciting crafty haul. Once my camera batteries have recharged, I will take pics of all the great stickers I've received & also some more work-in-progress shots of what I am currently sewing (little felt ornaments and some embellished brooches).

Lots to look forward to, ha ha.

Friday, 25 May 2007

More Sewing & Some Shopping

I continue to ignore the housework etc in favour of sewing my current projects, and am beginning to have a rather satisfying little heap of finished items in lovely blues & greens. I've done so much sewing, in fact, that I have completely finished the vintage reel of "light kingfisher" thread I was using.

I've an awkwardly coloured cardigan that needed thread matching to it so I could sew some runaway buttons back in place, so a trip to the sewing machine repair shop with its rows and rows of lovely sewing thread seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately, they turned out to have shut because of a fire! So, I went to the market instead and bought...

... thread to match my cardigan...
... new thread for my exciting schemes (pictured here with the old empty reel)...
... and just THE most exciting haul of felt:
Gorgeous rich red, soft blue, lovely dark purple (I am ALWAYS trying to find nice purple felt and failing), lovely strong pink (ditto), marzipan for Kezzaroo, turquoise (of which I'd just run out), yummy lilac, and TEAL! Hurrah! I bought one sheet of this ages ago and have been using it soooo sparingly and was mourning its loss yesterday when I used the last of it for my current projects, so finding it restocked has made me a very happy bunny. See how well it matches the ribbon I am currently using? Just brilliant.

What did I use the very last of my prized sheet of teal felt for? The wings on this, actually (meant to be a dragonfly but slightly wrong proportions I think, maybe some kind of dragonfly / butterfly cross-breed?) :

Here he is in situ, with the final blue & green mobile that I'm making this week (plenty more sewing to do, but no more mobiles for now)...

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Sewing Like Crazy

Screw the chores, all I want to do today is sew! I popped out to the cake shop round the corner to buy some ribbon, and have (rather overexcitedly) been putting the finishing touches to some of the things I started yesterday. Lots more to come, but before the light goes completely here are the two things I've finished so far...
Two dangly mobile thingummies, one long and one short, both featuring the ace crystals I got from Greygoat via the swap group (please excuse our 1960s kitchen carpet!!).
The moment I saw those crystals I wanted to do this with them, and I think they've turned out rather well!

I've been experimenting a little with the finishing-off of the mobiles, trying out different ways of doing the last bit of stitching. The small piece pictured above was stitched with slightly hidden plain stitches as in this first photo (and like the last mobile I made)...
... and the larger was stitched with more decorative & visible stitching as seen in this second photo. I don't know yet which I prefer. Hmm.
I still have lots of blue&green bits and pieces to finish, including something involving this...
Trying out lots of ideas, lots of fun! - more photos to come tomorrow, hopefully!

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Some Actual Sewing! Hurrah!

As may be gathered from the title of this blog post, I have managed to get some sewing done. All this mucking about with lovely papery things is all very well and good but I have so many sewing projects rattling around my tiny brain, it is so frustrating not to be getting on with any of them! ... and consequently so delicious to be wielding a needle & thread again. I have been cutting out felt like a mad thing, getting lots of stuff ready for relaxing evenings sewing pretty things.

Sneak peek at what I am working on at the moment (featuring lots of peacock-like blues and greens, but no actual peacocks)...
Note the experiments with patterned felt at the bottom there (above)... and the yummy reel of vintage sewing thread I am planning to sew all this together with (below) ...

Oh, and this is my workspace at the moment, complete with felt-based mess, the magical box that houses my felt stash, and a trusty (and excellently co-ordinated) mug of tea :)

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Birthday Shopping part one...

I have been Etsy shopping for my birthday and having sooo much fun doing it. Narrowing down my vast list of favourites and fancied items to a likely list took bloody ages though as there are just so many nice things to choose from!

I have stumbled across the annoying fact of lots of US-based Etsy sellers not shipping abroad though. It drives me a little crazy as an "international" buyer to see US-only shipping, especially as there are very few things that I am enough in love with to go out of my way to email a seller and ask if they could ship to me, please? I want to shake them all and tell them how many sales they could be losing out on! Ah well.

But what have I actually bought? My first bit of shopping was for awesome greetings cards... I always hope that my fave artists will start doing greetings cards or postcards cos I hardly ever buy art for my walls (even less frequently now it has to pass the boyfriend-approval test if it's to be hung anywhere other than the spare room, hehe). I do however believe that you can never have enough nice stationery, and I send an awful lot of letters and bits of crazy post to people. Also cards are a perfect "useful" purchase - and if something is "useful" it is practically a necessity in which case it is almost free, you see.

I still have my eye on some other cards (I intend to continue birthday shopping for weeks - my birthday is still over a week away and then there may even be some birthday money to spend...) but for now I have treated myself to this kickass stash from Askey and The Devil's Wallpaper

I was grinning like a big idiot when those arrived in the post! I am super-pleased with them, and keep getting them out of my stationery box to look at them.

I have been in love with Askey's shoes prints for months. The titles are just darling, too. This one is called "I like your shoes":
Her art is so deliciously crisp and modern whilst still being jam-packed with quirky character. All her prints have a really distinct feel to them, and yet they're so recognisable (to me, at least) as being her illustrations and no-one else's. Oh, and her sense of colour just slays me.

It's great having Askey's cards in a box with the ones from The Devil's Wallpaper (DW for short). It has made me start thinking about how cool it would be to do some kind of UK Etsy sellers collaborative project - maybe a box of Christmas cards with one from each artist? Everyone has such a distinctive style - so much mass-market stuff is so samey, especially when one sort of thing becomes trendy and the same stuff shows up again and again in all the various shops.

It's great seeing artists & crafters being able to make stuff that appeals to them, crazy oddments inspired by their obsessions and interests rather than being forced to tailor-make a neat commercial "range" of similar items. DW's shop is just perfect for this - so many different, awesome things! I really like DW's paintings, but I feel almost unhealthy levels of desire for her paper goods... I want to stroke them, they are just delicious and they are going to help me pretend to be very chic and sophisticated!Her descriptions make me smile every time, too. She is a very funny lady. I've just interviewed Askey for the UK Etsy Sellers blog and DW is the next-but-one interviewee and I can't wait to ask her some questions :)

Thursday, 17 May 2007

A Frenzy of Recycling

As I'm not in the mood for sewing at the moment (as discussed in my previous post) I am instead rediscovering the pleasures of cutting and pasting. I am forever picking up odd vintage books and other ephemera in charity shops, with vague plans to turn them into "something" "sometime". This week I've been delving into my charity shop finds, attacking them with scissors and turning them into recycled stationery.

An old guide to British Wild Flowers is in the process of transforming into 100 pretty envelopes:
And "Dean's New Leisure Book for Girls" (published in about 1968) has become a big pile of lovely ivory notecards:I've really been enjoying making these, reading the stories and picking the best bits to feature on the cards. Great girls adventure stories, ranging from boarding school dramas to escapades in revolutionary "Parazuela", haha.
There were so many great lines that I've not only added text on the front to match the awesome illustrations, but also stuck a line or two on the back of each card:
Reminds me of all the stuff I grew up reading - Famous Five novels and Twinkle annuals. Marvellous stuff.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

My Other Lover...

Oh, how neglected this blog must feel! I have been off lavishing attention on the UK Etsy Sellers blog all this week, leaving this little fellow feeling all lonely and unloved. Oh well.

I've been tweaking the UK Etsy Sellers blog quite a lot, getting the big fat list of UK Etsy Shops up there (all neatly divided into categories as blog posts I'll keep coming back to an updating) and starting to get their little shop blurbs written. A long list of shop names under a category heading isn't much of a help when shopping, so I'm gradually working through the shops listing what they sell and adding their little promo blurbs if they have any. I'm also making sure that everyone's moments of fame last that little bit longer by highlighting shops that have been featured sellers (either over on Etsy.com or on the UK blog) and also the most marvellous winners of our design challenges.

Finally got all the categories up there now (from accessories to supplies & tools) and blogged about the new exciting secret swap that Askey is organising (much as I have been blogging to avoid the washing up, cleaning the fridge etc, so she seems to be organising a swap to avoid doing her coursework!). I've signed up for the swap already, the last one was so much fun!

So, what have I been failing to blog about lately?

Lots of action over at the swap group this week. I've sent out some more stuff, and received a few more exciting parcels. When it stops being so overcast I'll take some pics and do a proper swap update - the list of swapped items is growing very rapidly and there are some awesome things on there.

I'm still neglecting my sewing etc, either too busy with other (rather dull) things or just not in the mood to settle down with a needle and thread. Far too many days have passed when the only thing I've made is dinner, and that just sucks. (Not having made stuff but also my cooking, frankly!) So I am trying to dig out other planned projects and find something I do feel in the mood for. I've started making a batch of envelopes from an old guide to wildflowers, and a big pile of notecards using this great charity-shop find:
Work-in-progress shots or maybe even finished items coming soon!

Monday, 7 May 2007

Thankyou Cards

Glued though I was to the delights of Germany's Next Top Model, I did somehow manage to tear myself away long enough to get some little thankyou-cards made. During my spring-cleaning this year I stumbled across a leftover bundle of mini cards I made one Christmas to send in letters, attach to presents etc.
These have been just perfect for scribbling little "thankyou for your order!"-type notes to include with my parcels, especially the airmail ones where weight is soooo important.

So when I saw BlueMarmalade offering these great outline stickers up for swapping on the UK swap group I immediately asked if I could have them, as I thought they would be just perfect for making some more mini cards.
And this is the result: eight little folded cards...
... and 30 little flat note cards (business-card size)...
All with such lovely golden stickers, they look so great against the white, and they're so detailed they work so well on their own:Not the best photos in the world as it's so overcast here today but otherwise: Super! Sexy! Toll! (a bit of GNTM sneaking in there, sorry).

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Lazy Sunday

I have done nothing today. Nothing at all! I have sat on the sofa eating jaffa cakes and watching episodes of "Germany's Next Top Model" on YouTube and generally slobbing about being lazy. I like to pretend that the subtitles mean I can't really get on with anything else and that I just have to sit there gawping like a goldfish doing nothing whatsoever, but really I just want a lazy day today and gosh darn it I shall have one! I'll do my chores tomorrow, I swear...

I did at least post the first Featured Seller interview over on the UK Etsy Sellers blog this morning - Anna of SakuraFubukiDesigns is the first featured seller, answering lots of my questions like the sweetheart she is. When she sent me her answers she attached pictures of the second necklace she made using the beads I gave her via the swap group, another gorgeous piece inspired by characters in Arthurian novels:
Having read a lot of that sort of fiction when I was younger, and also done a whole course on Arthurian Literature at university, I can really clearly imagine the type of characters that would wear these pieces. Both the necklaces have such strong auras about them now, I am so delighted to see the beads given this exciting new life. She also sent pics of the half-dozen other pieces of jewellery she'd made since the beads restored her "creative mojo". Hurrah!

I haven't made anything in ages, so was quite pleased yesterday to have to help the boyf make thankyou cards to various Liberal Democrats... Not the best things I've ever made, but fun to do and great to just get down to making stuff. Here you can see the logo I enlarged from their website, the piece of greaseproof baking paper I was using to trace with, and the three different versions I tested.
The top version was a sponge-printed stencil that didn't work too well because I couldn't get my acrylic paint to a controllable consistency - too thick and it wouldn't work with the sponge and too watery and it leaked everywhere and was far too messy. Definitely need to test this one out again though cos if it worked it would look great. The second was painted with standard acrylic paint straight from the tube (much too dark), and the third was painted with watered-down acrylic.

I went with the third option, and am quite pleased with how the colour is spot-on and how even though they're all a little rough around the edges they don't look too bad. The water has rippled the card a bit but not hugely. They will do, anyway, and the big pile of them is rather satisfying. Here are just some of the finished cards:

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Very Exciting Things

Yesterday was rather exciting. The boyf got a new job... AND the first completed item got posted to the swap group on Flickr.

I have already blogged about my hopes that eventually people might make stuff with their swapped-for supplies and post pictures of the results to the group for all to see. This was very much an "eventually" - thrilling as the idea might be, I wasn't going to hold my breath! But when the lovely Sakura received my beads through the post she was immediately inspired and these neglected beads...
... became this gorgeous "Camelot" choker:
How beautiful is that, huh? So, so, so wonderful to see something created because of the swap group, and especially exciting cos they were my neglected beads. I had salvaged them from a bracelet left over from our Free Stuff Party a couple of months ago, and thought they looked lush but had just no clue what I might ever use them for and was a bit resigned to them rather going to waste. But instead there exists this lush new bit of jewellery. Hurrah!

As I'm sure you can imagine, I was grinning like a crazy person when I saw the pictures. Sakura seemed pretty chuffed, too, as apparently I have restored her crafting mojo! She's blogged about it here, go check it out.

Meanwhile, the swapping continues. I've spent some of my swap points on stickers from bluemarmalade and some little zips from snowberrylime, and am itching to get making some mobiles to feature these gorgeous chandelier crystals sent from greygoat (they were wrapped in the lovely ribbon pictured, it will be perfect for tying round a bundle of my map notecards, so I am totally counting it as a bit of swapped supplies) :
Look how shiny they are! Right, off to make thankyou cards for hardworking Lib Dem leaflet deliverers now...

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