Thursday 29 September 2011

A review. Entirely solicited.

As if to exaggerate my sense of importance in the interweb craft cosmos, a chap from Quirk Books (the quirky division of Random House publishers) asked me to review a book that's out tomorrow.  The reason for the invitation and the bribe of a free hardback book, is of course, the statistics that this blog generates on any given Wednesday.  So, thanks for that, it's why I make you read this stuff.  
Microcrafts (one word....)
Tiny Treasures to Make and Share

It's a nice book - not huge, probably 11 x 8, something close..very handle-able. Beautifully photographed, and the intro includes a nice big up to the photographer who worked hard to bring a sense of scale to the projects.  Very helpful to the reader, I must say. Generally the book presents a single project across a double page, classic editing with the full page photo at left.  Nice touches include tips in separate boxes, and a tag detailing finished size and designer. And nice clear but small font - all to remind you that you're working in Micro.  Neatly.

It's a collaborative project overall and includes a nice section at the back where the designers have some words about themselves, in the third person, and it includes their shops or online presence which is nice.  Seeing other things that they do is interesting..mostly they all continue to work in Micro!

There are some fairly standard projects - but nicely adapted to be tiny - I particularly liked the bunting - simple enough I know, but stitched together paper triangles strung between two skewers over a lovely cake is just enchanting..and certainly the tiny effort involved shouldn't be saved for children's cakes.  Fimo charms aren't new, but these are pretty and made easy - again, don't leave these on the children's menu...there is some really fun jewellery to be had here.  But if you want new - there's plenty....bird feeders from drinking straws, micro   macrame, micro owls and my word, wool felting on a planetary scale!
I liked the friendly and patient instructions.    Indeed, this must be the case - that teeny little book standing up on the front cover in the picture above is my first attempt.  I made signatures, followed instructions and HAND STITCHED the binding...and I'm going to do more..they are so sweet.  This is a breakthrough for me. ( Fat fingers and no patience.)  

The book is bang on trend really; delivering projects that are hand made, and largely from scraps of course - two things that are currently attracting a lot people to crafting.  And why not.  Nice graphics like the 'stitched' page headings and some graph paper behind the supplies lists for each project do reflect current scrapbook and craft trends, non? 

So do I have any dislikes?  One mild one - I'm a metric gal, largely because it's easier (!) and this book is clearly pointed at an American market that still uses Imperial.  So in measuring, I did actually use a calculator (Mr Dunnit) to make conversions.  

But really that's it.  If you know anyone who works in tiny and really is in their comfort zone in the Micro format; this will make a great gift. At £11.99 it's a lovely one too.  From your favourite book retailer of course. And who knows, maybe one day, we can have an English collaborative, metric version too! 

And as a final hurrah to the blog stats that got me this gig - if you're a WOYWWer and would like to have this copy of the book as a gift from me and Quirk, leave a comment.  Masses of comments of course, will require a draw.  I'll report back.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 121

Hmmm.  I'll try to be brief.  The better question should be 'what isn't on your work desk'   

As you can see, I've got Christmas going on, and a 2012 calendar page  and 2 notebooks.  That's not a good sign.  It's like having two diaries - means you 're constantly feeling like you should be somewhere but you don't know why.  Two notebooks will eventually make me panic because I've missed some major project off some list.  Note to self: fix that! You can only see one pair of scissors and the basket for dirty stamps is filled with glitters, an ATG gun and a get-gunk-off-anything type cleaning pad - only three stamps; and they need to be put away, for they are as clean as they're ever going to be. See, occasionally I do use a baby wipe and clean-as-I-use.  It's a mood thing.

Now get in the mood to show us your desk huh....nice big picture, quick explanation - then we've got time to visit loads...ta.  Upload a pic to your blog and link here.  Easy.  See you at your place.  Get the kettle on.  Mind, if it's after 6pm, mines a G&T.

Monday 26 September 2011

Flogging a good idea...

Yeah - as I said, take a good idea and use it till every one is screaming at you to move on. And then resist because you always look pretty good in shadow!
I was in Hobbycraft about 10 days ago - because Miss Dunnit needed to go to Staples and that is over the road, see - innocent of the charge of manipulating the location, Your Honour.  And there was this piece of paper.  It's one of two pieces that I took home with me from that trip.  I had picked up one of their 'how to' leaflets which described a lovely advent calendar made from little tins with clear lids.  I was very charmed by the idea and walked around looking for the tins.  I couldn't find them.  Eventually, when Miss Dunnit started with the 'can we go now' and getting silly with her chum (OK, she didn't 'can we go now', but they were getting silly and making me feel that I should hurry....and I hate that!),   I sent them to look for the tins.  Kept 'em quiet for a while.  Although I could actually hear them shouting to each other from opposite ends of the same aisle.  Cringe.  Try to remember that she's 18. Eighteen!! They couldn't find them either.  And then I looked properly at the idea sheet and it referred to the tins as 'wedding favours'.  So I beetled to the wedding section and blow me - the tins are there, not loose for the help yourself-ness type shopping, no.  In a pack of 25.  Handy.  Sling it in basket, nonchalantly approach till with 2 pieces of paper and pack of tins.  Oh boy, I'm SO getting ready for the season, I'm SO going to be prepared and knock down organised.  Well, knock down is the appropriate choice of phrase.  The tins did not come home with me on account of the £26.95 price tag. ($41 bucks, give or take) Yikes.  I don't need another advent calendar that badly, and at that price, no-one I give it to will appreciate the enormity of the gift!  So, I came home and made a nice LO of me and him again with a £1 piece of paper. This time under Spanish sun.  It's appropriate really, to feature Mr Dunnit with this story.  I think the moral compass that prevents me spending that sort of money on a bunch of empty tins might very well be the glue that keeps us together!

Friday 23 September 2011

A review. Unsolicited.

 A while ago, Shopkeeper Gal chucked a couple of ink pads at me and asked me to use them in workshops.  She said they were pretty good.  At the time, I genuinely thought 'gah, not another ink pad - what's this one meant to be good for..?'.  As I'm a good girl, I have been using them, as prescribed by Shopkeeper Gal and the text on the label.  They are intended for use with clear stamps and are partially pigment inks.  So, for the non-scientific purpose of a review, I thought you'd like to see it in action.  I know.  It means basically that I remembered to take photographs.  I can't help myself, efficiency is my erm, middle name.

So:  take a brand new stamp (Basic Grey, straight from the packet...unopened but brought about six months ago.  Ahem.)  Routinely I would use sellotape or a plastic eraser across the surface of a new clear stamp to attempt to remove the 'coating' that moulding/manufacturing often leaves.  It ruins your inking attempt see.  But this time, I didn't, just to give the new ink pads and run for their dosh.  So, control first - here's the stamp and resulting image from using a Memories ink pad on the stamp.  
You can see the inevitable 'beading' of the ink on the surface of the stamp - silicone really seems a bit ink resistant.  And you can see that on the resulting image - not a bad one at all, but not entirely black or as solid as you would expect from a solid image stamp, huh.  

So enter the Clearly Better ink pad:

 I didn't clean the stamp after the initial inking with the other pad.  I probably could have been bothered, but didn't want to give the new ink pad an advantage by changing the surface!  No really, remember, I'm doing science here.
 You can tell immediately that you have an ink pad with glycerin in it, just from the purchase that the ink gets on the stamp.  Lovely coverage - some beading but not as notable as with the true die ink.  And then you have the stamped image.  Lovely, opaque solid image, and...nice and black.  And....showing up the paler areas of the image well - no 'filling in' that sometimes a Brilliance ink pad or a full on Pigment might deliver.  Nice.
So - you can tell already - I like it.  I like it most because the element of glycerin involved means that there are gold and silver in the range and they are truly gold and silver metallic, and there's a season coming up that needs such things!  These inks need a slightly longer drying time than average dye based inks - inevitably because they are partially pigments, but they dry quickly enough for impatient crafters like me - and you can always heat set them if you're in a hurry. The ink pad labelling is not great - all the cases are white; the lid labels are all printed to look alike and in the main, printed in black - the label border and the Fleur De Lis logo is printed in the colour of the ink pad within.  A tad confusing unless you know what you're looking for in terms of speed recognition.  I've also noticed in workshops that there's a hesitation before examining the ink pad - the word 'Clearly' leads some to think that they're looking at a clear ink pad.  Small gripes which I'm sure, will be overcome - either by tweaking of the design or perhaps a retailer/user awareness campaign - I can't say I've seen much bragging going on about these ink pads and their superior inking quality for clear stamps.  

 I've got more ink pads than I need, but am very happy to say that these Clearly Better pads are definitely going to find space in my cupboard - just what clear stamps have been waiting for if you ask me.  I know you didn't, but if you're still reading this, you must have been waiting to ask, huh!

EDITED Friday afternoon:  These ink pads are from The Paper Company 'TPC' in the US, and I guess most stores will know of them - they are a wholesale source, so you will have to ask your local shopkeeper.  Over here in dear old Blighty, Bramwell Crafts are the UK distributor, again, a wholesale supplier that your local store will probably have contact with.  Meantime, as this is entirely an unsolicited review, I guess I can add a plug - if you're in a real hurry for one - how about asking Shopkeeper Gal to supply them by mail order?  Kraft Crazy 01980 844010.  

Thursday 22 September 2011

Thank you Annette..

..absolutely ages ago, I commented on some papers that Annette had on her WOYWW.  She was, inevitably, doing stuff to be admired, and I got frightfully excited about the papers and probably went on too much about them.  Especially as I couldn't find them.  Turns out I was looking for the wrong make.  Anyhoo, Annette sent me some of the papers to shut me up, which was too kind.  They are 8" pieces, and the one you see here, with 'Life is Good' printed on it was too much for me...I had to save it and save it and not use it, it was too erm, good.  And now I'm over it.  You may notice by now that I use shadow photos of me and Mr D a lot; I take one of us together wherever we go if it's meteorologically possible.  This isn't a great version - Mr D seems to have a very teeny head, and I am well, more mis-shapen than usual. Anyway, I matted it on red something or other, mounted it onto the lovely 8" paper and then chucked it on some other red 12".  The rest is tape and stickers.  The journalling, falling onto one (Basic Grey) sticker after another is one of my favourite ways of avoiding a big box of writing.  I learned it from Shimelle - she says it's alright to run out of room and carry on writing on some other piece of something.  And she's a true celebrity scrapbooker, so it must be OK.  And I like it.  And it stuck in my head, which means it must work! So Annette, here's what I did with one of the pieces you sent me.  Again, I thank you.  

Wednesday 21 September 2011

What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 120

 My desk is a lesson in getting on with it and looking very tranquil  Oh yes it is.  You can see clearly, there are no obvious piles of stash on stash and even the working area is relatively uncluttered.  Helps, I must say. Now  just to be a bit defensive - the two pills are paracetamol, to be quaffed with the coffee in the spotty mug.  The syringe is filled with silicone glue.  For sticking stuff in dimension.  No other reason, your honour.

Again, though, I confess this is a tightly cropped photo.  My scraps boxes live at left, actually on my desk.  There's two of them, one for plain, one for patterned.  But you can't really tell.  Anne was joking when she suggested I might have to cut some of my scraps down to fit....but really, horrifyingly, she's right!
See.  It needs sorting, but I'm busy presently.  Ask me again next week - I might have bothered by then.  Or I might be engulfed by scrap stock, who knows!
So show us your smug or your shame, either way, it's of huge interest to us all.  Post a pic of your work surface and whatever you're working on to your blog.  Link here and we'll slowly but surely pay you a visit.  Easy.  
Oh and someone asked about the time I post this - it's usually about 6am.  Today it's 6am but it's scheduled.  Mr D is not having to rise so early this Wednesday, so I'm going to attempt a lie in.  See you at a decent hour!

Monday 19 September 2011

One or possibly two uses......

Mine's a single malt, please.
No no, I haven't the skills to go all cookery on you.  The lack of photographic skill alone means that there is no chance of me writing a blog about cookery - you'd be put off before the end of the first sentence.  It's weird isn't it - how on some cookery blogs, a stew or casserole can look so inviting and worth trying and on another, it can look as though it might have already been eaten.  Oh sorry, not spoiling your tea, am I?
Well, now you're off food for a minute, here's the scoop on the artfully photographed bottle of vinegar.  We needed some, and when I saw this had a spray top, I had to buy's been a teeny joke in this house that Mr Dunnit needs an industrial amount of vinegar on chips and fish fingers; and I thought that this would facilitate the delivery.  And save Miss Dunnit and I having to wait five minutes with our chips going cold just so his food was adequately drenched.  
Well crafters, get thee a bottle of this!  It's the best ever spray top I've come across.  Really.  No idea why, but it is.  It sprays a perfect blast of a fine vinegar mist about 10 inches I'd say, in a really good triangle from the squirt nozzle thing.  Mr Dunnit says it doesn't enhance the vinegar delivery particularly, so it will be decanted, he can go back to drops...  I shall probably only use it for ink spraying - am thinking that the fine nozzle might be easily bocked by mica am going to rummage out my DI refill.  (Note, I only have one!).  I will report further.  Just as soon as the smell of vinegar can be removed from the bottle - and therefore any card I spray!  I guess there's a really good domestic solution of baking powder or such that does that.  But I'm not Martha Stewart - just an over excitable woman who now has to have chips for tea every night for a bottles' worth of time.  Talk about suffering for your art!

Saturday 17 September 2011


This is for you - anyone who reads here regularly deserves a medal.
(Sketch 'cased' from Lousette in Craft Stamper)
Although actually it's not that early (8.30), I feel as though it is.  We're early risers generally, but Saturdays for me are a luxury lie in day - I wouldn't generally be up before now.  But of course, it's a crop day and for some reason that meant that yesterday I didn't get ready.  How does that happen?  At lunch time, I joked to Jan that I'd blame her. But I don't and can't because she wasn't here.  I spent the afternoon on the floor in front of my cupboards, putting photos to paper try to achieve the semblance of page kits.  And then I woke up at ridiculous o,clock thinking about all the things I hadn't got ready, wanted to take but hadn't packed, or just hadn't thought of yesterday.  Ah well; Mr D is coming home to transport me to the hall, so I'll just cave in and take everything,  Obviously, if I was packing and driving myself, this would not happen, but when you've got help - well you would wouldn't you?

 Flea Market day at the shop. (Station Road Tidowrth, Hants SP9 7NN)  I can't miss the chance to check out the number of wood mounted stamps that will be entered.  I'm beginning to think I'm the only person in the world who still wants them. My workshop friend Mrs Willpower has unmounted all of hers. Others are doing that.  I want to wood mount all my clear stamps, perversely!  It's not about room.  I'm just inflexible, change resistant and old fashioned.  Yeah.  DD, fresh from her first week of studying Communications, would call that Self Awareness.  I say it's my age. 

Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday 15 September 2011

So Julia, what else do you do?

Well, how kind of you to ask.  Wait, no, I asked.  And that's because I want you to know.  We're all rushing around running homes and doing domestics chores continually, some of us do the cooking as well.  I maintain the 'office' side of Mr Dunnit's Joinery business from home.  Mostly, that involves, book-keeping, sundry paperwork, phone calls and deliveries.  I like doing the deliveries. For some reason it makes me feel I'm doing a 'real' job-  and I really like turning up at a building site in my little green Yaris. There'a always surprise about how much 'stuff' I can get in it.  Mostly they think it very amusing that the van is in use so I've used the car.  I'm not sure why.  But it's fun.  Yesterday, I did a job that was not so much fun.  
To spare a long detailed blah: there's a new greenhouse, victorian style.  Mr D manufactured it and part of the deal was to re-use the existing glass.  Ok.  So as they dismantle the old one, it becomes apparent that they'll need to clean off the glass.  Scrape off the old putty from both sides, scrape off any residual paint from both sides and clean both sides with a proprietary brand glass cleaner.   Well, here at Pennant Joinery we don't have youth opportunity type people, apprentices, indeed, anyone except him and me.  And he's busy.  And Miss D is back at College.  And the installers are waiting.
It got so boring and mind numbing that I did them in batches of twenty pieces.  After about 9 kerjillion pieces I moved inside and actually spread a tarp on the floor in the lounge room so I could watch TV whilst working.  I NEVER watch daytime just doesn't occur to me to switch it on when there's radio in every room of the house.  So I did 5 hours of scrape, squirt polish, scrape squirt polish.  And my mind wandered.  I didn't do much watching, but I listened to some amazing TV.  Who knew...Maury?!  America's Next Top Model  (why do they scream)?  Wow.  Of course, I did it all, there's a deadline for installation and I wasn't about to be the one to let the installers down.  But I want everyone to know - my arm, neck and shoulder are sore from scrape squirt polish...I'm such a baby that I had to take a paracetamol just so I could get to sleep last night!  As day jobs go, you can keep this. I may have guilt over making time each day to do some crafting, but not enough to make me wanna help out like this all the time!

Here's summat you may want to know about.......
Kraft Crazy is at Station Road, Tidworth, Hants SP9 7NN.  Shopkeeper Gal does not pay or bribe me to expose her in this way.  But we're friends, and why shouldn't I expose her, huh!

Wednesday 14 September 2011

What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 119

 Oh it's been a hideous mess for the last couple of days.  But it's OK, I got so sick of it that I took time to tidy the working part of it.  And while I was doing that, I realised I must sort out the scraps box...that's dominating and taking up room and making the desk feel small.  It's back to discipline - don't just shove it in the appropriate colour section - make sure it fits!! So I haven't shown that today, it's  too much.  Yes it is.  Instead, just a shot of the immediate work area, dappled with the sunshine of early autumn.  Oh yeah.  Poetry.  Because five minutes from now it'll be throwing sheets of rain down again.  Strange, tail-end-of-a-hurricane-weather this is.  
There's no good angle this week! Behind the tape dispenser is an envelope from Snapfish.  To remind me to prepare for this weekend's Ludgershall Crop.  Yeah, like I'm doing that already!  Under that is a plastic box filled with little pots of glitter in different shapes and colours.  To remind me to use it now and then.  Yep, I haven't done that wither.  I see 2 pairs of scissors and two pairs of tweezers...this is quite good for me.  But I've finished the card I was working on, and decided I had to tidy up a's not inspiring, a desk that looks like a rubbish tip.  So......I did.  No polish or cleaning, just tidying.  Baby steps!
(Photos are from Tues afternoon...there is no sunlight at this time...if Mr D wasn't getting up and going to work at this ridiculous hour, there would be no WOYWW either!!)

So I've enlarged photos and told my Wednesday story....tell us yours now please, and highlight with wonderful pictures.  Post to your blog and link here.  Job's a good 'un. 

Monday 12 September 2011

Points of Inspiration. 2.

This is the bag that Jan made for me.  Note the sewn outside seams and top corners - adds rigidity you see, because I chose a very soft oilcloth.  And although I wasn't expecting it - it's lined, with gingham, after I was given a choice.  I love it.  I'm sure if you ask her nicely, Jan would make you one too. I love the strong solid pattern, have always been attracted to this sort of pattern.  I have no idea why.  Too shallow to examine that.  But each time I look at this or variants of it, I'm reminded that a single colour is all it takes to have an impact on anything, and that the solid design adds to the impact overall.  Which basically means that you can do so much with very little.  Much like Jan herself really.  I see a fabric I like.  She makes it into a bag I like.  What's not inspiring about that?

Saturday 10 September 2011

Points of Inspiration. 1.

Finally I cleared my desk.  I've spent some time sorting, tidying putting away.  You can't tell, but I can.  By turning my back on domestic issues for the whole day, I also made time to work on samples for next week's workshop.  Better late than never, huh!  This card is one of them.  And during last night's browsing through various blogs that I try desperately to keep up with, I noticed that this sort of works for Daring Cardmakers new challenge.  It's got a butterfly; the colours are probably at the extreme edge of the lovely soft green and pink of the inspiration photo, but hey..this is possibly as soft and pale as I get really. Daring Cardmakers are waaay up there for me in terms of inspiration.  I haven't and don't intend to get into Pinterest...I know, some of you may recoil in horror, but I spend too much time browsing blogs and finding inspiration to locate another place that will eat up hours. There's more hours to be eaten up today - Mr D is threatening to have the first afternoon off in 36 days.  It may only be for a haircut and a quick cuppa somewhere in town, but I'm mildly excited.  It's like a date! 
Have a lovely weekend ya'll.

Thursday 8 September 2011

The clear stamp thing...

So this is how the clear stamps look now.  I was out with Jan and we bought oilcloth to make me a handbag.  Actually, she bought the oilcloth and made the bag. I will show you soon.  I bought a metre of clear PVC.  Thinking I could sew pockets onto pages and do clever stuff with it.  And after it had been sitting around a while, I realised that it would solve my clear stamp storage crisis.  See, my metal dies are on magnetic strips stuck to A4 sheets of mount board, and assembled in  a file holder, so I can flip through them.  And now, thanks to some patient wrapping of A4 mount board with PVC, I can do the same with my clear stamps.  A lot of people will be all, can you tell what they are without their index sheets?  Well, I'll ink them all eventually and then they'll be stained and it will be easy. And no I'm not, under any circumstances, going to stamp the images on the mount board prior to wrapping it in PVC.  All this causes is stress if a stamp is put back in the 'wrong' place. They are loosely themed...whole sets have stayed together and for example, the alphas are all on one sheet.  Both sides. And, Slipper Lady, they may not all be in alphabetical order.  But it's OK, because I can see them very clearly.  The EZ mounted stamps particularly like the PVC, some of the most used clear ones had to be 'encouraged' to actually washing them in hot soapy water.  I know it's what they tell you to do, but well, you know, if they stay clingy.....
So all's well that ends well.  I have stamp storage that I can access easily and will probably now use the clears and UMs much more.  I have sorted a collection that was out of control and now have at least a dozen sets to enter into the Flea Market at Kraft Crazy in a couple of weeks.  Which means I may have some cash to buy more stamps.  Win win.  Again!  My word, it's been a week.  Although my desk is still horrendous.  I think that it will have to be faced tomorrow as a job, rather than a quick tidy round before I sit down to work!!  Still,  creative genius has a price, n'est pas?

Wednesday 7 September 2011

What's On Your Work Desk? Wednesday 118

No really,this is week 118, I just got it wrong last week.  Surprise!  Actually the real surprise is that I'm no further forward with creating a calm or inviting space to work on and have spent all of five minutes in my workroom in the last 24 hours, which does me no good at all.  Including my sense of panic.  I might be missing the best idea I've ever had!  (Naturally, I'm expecting that idea to come upon me whilst I'm engrossed in some other worthy piece of crafting!

So there you are, full on mess.  The plastic stuff on the right is to become my clear stamp storage; more on that some other time then, and I have bothered to put my glasses at an angle that sort of shows the colour this time, after last week had a lot of you hunting for them.  Apart from such artful placement, the desk is untouched after Monday night.  How sad.  
So if this hasn't scared you off, you 're all right to show us your desk.  Or whatever you work at and whatever you're working on.  Please.  We like a look.  Upload a pic to your blog, link back here and slowly slowly, others will call to admire your working method.  And stash. Join us - why not.  Harmless, and free.  Compelling reasons, I'd say!

Monday 5 September 2011

No really, looking forward. Some more.

Well, at the risk of being smug, here's a couple of parts from 2 Scrap Ladies Magnetic Year in a Day preparations.  There's an Oak frame with the magnetic back board, and  a small section of one of the months that I'm *cough* designing.  I don't know if she'll read this, but the Happy Summer stamp always reminds me of the Enthusiastic Educator; she always notices when I use it.  And that's a lot.  Now of course, I should be making other cards and bits and pieces that are workshop commitments, but when you've got an idea in your head, you've gotta go with your flow, huh.  Lucky it's not Wednesday, the result of tweaking this LO and finishing my birdcage swap and sorting out some storage issues for my clear stamps is a particularly shocking mess.  And I'm coming to it all in a five minutes here-and-there method too - which actually drives me nuts, but real life keeps getting the edge here in Julia world!  But the good news is that I think I've sussed my clear stamp, u/m stamp storage.  If It works, I'll show you.  If it doesn't, I'll whinge and show you.  Win win for somebody, huh!