It’s a tall story…

Spot the difference – there are nine sub-species of giraffe, and each one has different patterns on their skin and also some different colourations

Whenever I post anything about giraffes, I get great feedback and a feeling that you all just love these amazing creatures. There are so many things about giraffes that are technically wrong – they look like a poor police photo fit, a peculiar job lot of bits and pieces stuck together – and yet so many people adore them.

They are gentle giants, huge herbivores grazing the treetops in Africa, using their 45cm black tongues to bring the food into their mouths. At the end of that ridiculously long neck is one of cutest faces you will find, a head more suited to a small deer than an 18ft ruminant!

As well as its pretty face, the giraffe also has the most amazingly languid slow motion gait. A running giraffe is never hurried and always graceful, its long limbs making it impossible to make quick movements. A giraffe has only two gaits – walking and galloping, but once it is moving, wow can it move! A giraffe can reach a sprint speed of up to 60 km/h (37 mph) and can keep going at 50 km/h (31 mph) for several kilometres.

The giraffe’s coat is another thing of beauty. There are nine sub-species of giraffe, and each one has different patterns on their skin and also some different colourations. From the pale West African giraffe with widely spaced red blotches on a pale background to the reticulated giraffe whose distinctive coat is made up of sharp-edged, reddish brown patches divided by a network of thin white lines looking very much like crazy paving!

Although generally very quiet animals, giraffes have been heard to communicate using sounds. During courtship, males emit loud coughs, not exactly romantic, but hey… Females call their young by bellowing and their calves will emit snorts, bleats, mooing and mewing sounds. Giraffes also snore, hiss, moan, grunt and make flute-like sounds. And if all that wasn’t cute enough, during the night, giraffes appear to hum to each other! I am so smitten with these animals!

They are sociable creatures, but they don’t form herds. Instead, they meet in groups each day and the makeup of a group changes from day to day – how good is that? No fear of getting stuck with the neighbourhood bore! So, basically, if given the chance, I think I’d like to be a giraffe. But having said that… there are drawbacks. Gestation is 400–460 days… that is an awfully long time to be pregnant. And, while the mother gives birth standing up, a new-born giraffe is between 5’6” and 6’6” tall!!

After more than 400 days of pregnancy, the baby giraffe can be up to 6’6″ tall at birth!

The males, or bulls, establish a pecking order by neck-wrestling. If a strange bull wanders into the area, a resident bull will challenge it, and the two will bang their heads together until one of them retreats! I confess I can think of several leading ‘bulls’ in our world today who I would happily encourage to bang their heads together –­ but no Joanna, don’t go there!

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It’s a boy …

Would that be for a boy giraffe? No, I suspect it would be aimed at a small human! But I thought this was a lovely use of the Giraffe Panel die.

I am often stumped for a novel twist on a new baby card. It’s fun to be able to send new Mums and Dads a card with a difference that still send the same congratulatory message. Using giraffes is rather fun.

Obviously, you could instantly tweak this to a new baby girl by using pink instead of blue – or if you were being super efficient and making in advance without prior knowledge of the gender of the baby, how about a lovely cream colour scheme or pale green. The giraffes could be made sepia rather than shades of grey.

I often find a monotone themed colouring process is a lot more successful than I expect. Try using sepia or shades of grey on your next project and see what you think.

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On safari

We have loved playing with all the jungly safari type dies we produced not so long ago. They make fun cards for all ages – my little Grace loves safari type programmes and I hope she gets to see some of them in the wild when she grows up. I haven’t been on a safari, I keep saying “when I retire” but that doesn’t seem to be getting any closer!

We have all seen the main safari animals in a zoo and one of my favourite visits was the Disney Animal Kingdom. If anyone has the chance staying in a hotel where, when you open your curtains in the morning you can stare at a giraffe not that many paces away, I highly recommend it. I am also very fond of Longleat. We took Grace just recently and she was squealing with excitement at the little monkey sitting on the wing mirror two inches from her face, as she sat on my lap in the front of the car. I was quite happy to have the window glass between us and the monkeys, cute they may be, but I bet they bite!

So lions or monkeys make great subjects for cards whether we have seen them in the wild or not. The animal patchwork dies we have in the series are also a huge success when you use them as backing pieces like the card on the left. They come in various animal effects – this one is the tiger – but crocodile, giraffe and zebra work just as well. The background on the right-hand card shows what fun you can have with some of the inks and pads around at the moment. I am very keen on the Tim Holtz pad ranges but Adirondack Alcohol Inks give amazing effects too. True to our craft, half the fun is just playing!

Simple effects, like cutting a circle from a Post-It note and then sponging around it to create the sun, or snipping cloud shapes again from a Post-It and sponging blue around them for clouds in a blue sky – just play and fiddle, inspiration always strikes!

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Birthday wishes with a safari theme!

Our Safari themed dies are so much fun to play with – how lucky am I playing for a job! The easiest way is using them in monochrome, so there’s no colouring and they do look so effective.

The zebra card makes me think of the Madagascar film (a big family favourite) where they wonder whether Marty the zebra is black with white stripes or white with black stripes. This card illustrates it perfectly – this example has a black underneath with the white stripes over the top – oh or are the black bits the stripes – hey it doesn’t matter you can use them whichever way round you like!

The landscape border looks wonderful just diecut in black (or brown if you are doing a different colour theme). Simple cards are fun to make and very impressive.

The lion panel again looks good in a single colour – in this case, black but we have used it in shades of brown too. So quick and so effective. The little lion embellishment comes from a snippet of backing paper on the Jayne Netley Mayhew CD – and apologies, it is out of stock now but I’m sure some of you will have it. Alternatively, you can use any animal related snippet that you have.

 

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Golden peacock – it’s one stylish bird!

This gorgeous golden peacock card is really elegant and not too hard to achieve – it’s one stylish bird!

How to:

The centrepiece is obviously the peacock – from our Signature Die SD344 – easy peasy! Die cut it in black or dark navy and then rub a little gilding wax across it. The borders are Mosaic Heart edger die cuts (SD359) – simples (as the meerkat says). Oh, and the buckle is SD316 – hurray for Signature dies – I do love making things that are fast, professional looking and easy!

Start with a black, or very dark, blank card about 7” square. Now wind some gold satin ribbon around the left-hand side – it helps to put a dot or two of glue holding the band inside the card while you fiddle with the front fixing. Thread the ribbon through the die cut buckle and then overlap, and make the ‘V’ notch in both ends, as per the picture.

Now cut some antique gold card to around 6” square and fix to the right-hand side (as shown). Cut some dark card about ¼” smaller and die cut along one edge, I will own up – I would be tempted to cut and edge a larger piece of card and then trim to the required 5 ¾” square… just easier sometimes and I love my little guillotine!

Cut another heart border in gold and attach that to the left. To decorate the blanker side of the die cut, snip a little strip of dark card and rub some gilding wax on – so much easier than using fabric ribbon.

Now cut a piece of gold card slightly larger than the peacock die and two dark card die cuts of the peacock. Attach the first die cut to the gold card and fix them to the main card. Now snip out just the peacock from its border and rub with gilding wax – place this on top of the dark peacock already fixed to the card to give height and – voila – you have an amazing card!

 

 

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