Seals and Surf!

This lovely card was made by Sylvie Ashton for the last TV show. Apart from demonstrating beautifully how fab our Seal Family die is, it also has a fascinating use for our Ocean Corner die.

I think it’s really important to encourage everyone to look at dies and think of different ways to use them. Dies are an investment, they aren’t going to perish or evaporate, they will always be there. So let’s try and get the best use from them that we can.

What this design does is take the coral edging from our Ocean Corner and round the edges a little, snip a little and turn them into the foam on the waves. Very effective and a great additional use for a corner die!

The waves and rocks are also worth pointing out – these are cut/torn papers from our Paper pad volume 3 – so often it’s easy to flip through a pad and say “Nah, not my kind of patterns” but backing papers have many uses and gorgeous flowers and lace are indeed some of my favourite backing papers (see Volume 1!) but we also need creatively inspiring colours and designs to help do something just a little bit different.

The last point I want to make is the sky. Any of you that caught the show will have seen the post it note demo, but for those that didn’t …. the sky is so very simple but effective I reckon! It needs a post it note and a pad of Tim Holtz Distress Inks – one of the blues – and an implement to apply the ink. You can use a lovely whizzy fat brush as I do, or a foam applicator as he does or just use a screwed up old tissue…. it works! Cut the clouds out from the post-it (making sure there’s a piece of tacky left somewhere on the cloud) and position them on a suitably sized piece of white card. Splodge or whisky around the clouds and across the sky …. then remove the post it notes and ta-da … clouds in a blue sky.

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A pair of Thomas Kinkades!

One of the biggest licenses we have ever negotiated was the thrill of signing with Thomas Kinkade. Sadly he is not with us anymore but the legacy he left behind is mountain high. He is known as the Painter of Light and is the most collected contemporary artist in America.

I have recently been writing an article on his life story for a special magazine/box set that we are bringing out with Practical Publishing later in the year and he really did achieve so much.

We do a triple CD that has a great majority of his work on it – I wonder now if I should have brought it out in instalments, but I felt it was a special crafting CD to have in your collection with close to everything on it. There are so many topics he liked to paint, pretty cottages, gorgeous gardens and, my favourite, his marine paintings oh, and even a teddy bear!

These cards are made from the CD and the one on the right uses an insert as the backing paper which is always a useful trick to get even more out of your CDs. The card on the left has a lovely embellishment that’s easy for you to copy and create. Just layer a small part of a picture onto card and then cover with several coats of a glaze. You can use glossy accents, Crystal Glaze – there are many others out there too. Once it is complete, it looks like a pretty piece of enamelled jewellery and makes a great little embellishment.

Happy Crafting! Smiles, Joanna.

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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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Howard Robinson’s beautiful boathouse

Howard Robinson is a British artist with a very distinctive style and, if you look through his decoupage pack on the website, you’ll find a beautiful array of houses and cottages, he has been in the licensed art business for over 35 years.

It’s fun to make up the decoupage (I use Pinflair glue gel) but more importantly there are so many different occasions to use the cards. An obvious one is a new home card, but it could be a ‘happy holiday’ card, if someone is staying in a cottage in the country, birthday, thinking of you (as this card is) and many more.

If you are looking through the images and thinking, ‘I’m sure I’ve seen something like this before’ … perhaps you are a jigsaw puzzle fan? Howard licenses a massive amount of artwork to jigsaw companies and, having made up a few with my late Mum and Dad, good fun they are too. I love all the intricate detailing and of course the main house image – I love houses!

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Gruffies rock!

I just love the Gruffies – have you discovered them yet? They are friends of the famous House-Mouse and Ellen Jareckie, the artist, has drawn both bears (Gruffies) and Hoppers (rabbits) as companions and as you can see from these cards – the occasional panda sneaks in too – I don’t believe she had named those.

The Gruffies and Hoppers CD is on the website and has oh so many bits for you to use. I love the images (obviously) but there are handy backing papers too. There are hundreds of pages of co-ordinating backing papers, inserts, decoupage, sentiments, bookmarks, mini cards and lots more!

The nice thing about Ellen’s work is that although the bears are ‘cute’ they are not simply suitable for younger people, they appeal to all ages and they never cease to make me smile!

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