Winter birthdays

Much as we all enjoy Christmas, there are lots of people who have winter birthdays too and I think it’s always important to think of something non-Christmassy for them.

My daughter, who has a birthday on December 27th, was plagued by joint cards and presents from some people throughout her childhood, so we try really hard to keep them separate so she doesn’t miss out!

This is a very sweet use of our Signature die planter and lattice and the beautiful winter flowers stamp sheet.

Sylvie Ashton made this sample and as she drew the flower stamps for me, I knew she would come up with something brilliant if it needed to include them. I love the little snowflakes coming down and the “snow” that has landed on the early bulbs.

It’s never as hard as you might expect to make a scene for a card – in this case just using some midnight blue for the sky and white layers for snow make it really easy to see the planter in position.

 

 

 

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Playing with stamps and diecuts

I love stamping, but that is such a broad term. There’s stamping direct onto a card, stamping onto paper and then matting and layering onto a card and masses of other ways too.

Best of all, in my opinion, is the technique where you stamp onto paper, colour and then cut out. I just love playing with decoupaged stamp images and, in the case of this card, scenic images.

The whole concept behind these stamps was to produce a range of garden flowers that would fit, scale-wise, into the Signature dies garden containers. So, to fulfil all my needs, we ended up with summer, winter and climbing flower stamps.

This card is 8 inches square and uses a gradient coloured background to represent the sky. Some backing paper that looks like wood has then been cut into “planks” and some brickwork made into a patio beneath the sky.

The fun for me starts with stamping away three or four of everything on the stamp sheet and colouring. I keep them all in a small box, so that if I don’t end up using them all they are there to start my design next time. My favourite flower on this whole card has to be the poppies – I just adore poppies!

Once coloured (I am currently using Graph’it markers) you can then start playing and arranging and I could happily do that for hours. It’s a bit like playing with my fuzzy felts toy when I was little – well you know what I mean!

 

 

 

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Patchwork dreams…

I have dreamed about relaxing and quietly stitching a beautiful patchwork quilt for about thirty years now, so that’s not looking promising is it? Much as I would love to take the time to learn and to stitch something that could become a family heirloom, life seems to have got in the way.

So I am often tempted to take shortcuts that do fit into my lifestyle and one of the latest patchwork shortcuts I have designed are some patchwork-shaped dies. Signature dies now offer some mini patchwork shapes and I thought those would be fun for dolls houses, some medium and some large.

This card shows really beautifully how the large size can be used. This is an 8-inch square card and I’ve used several of the shapes. I think it also shows you how smart matting and layering can make a card look.

All the ingredients on the card are paper or card based, but do remember dies being put through most of the machines will also cut fabric – so maybe this is a shortcut to making a little material quilt? If you have a go at making one, do let me know how you get on!

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The Nativity scene… seen differently

We are really enjoying making things with our Signature die range and it’s fun to have some different ideas and inspirations. To get some new and fresh input, we have ask some of our design team to produce some cards to make a stunning display of samples for the NEC exhibition at the beginning of November.

There’s no better way to demonstrate what wonderful designs you can create with the dies than to display a board full of pretty cards! I will be demonstrating too but we can’t demonstrate everything, so the boards are a really useful backup.

Here are a couple of ideas using the Nativity set. This is a limited edition set of dies for 2013. These cards don’t use the whole collection but give you some design ideas.

The background for the wise men with the palm trees can be achieved with some Tim Holtz Distress Ink Pads and an Inkylicious brush or two. Alternatively, you can use some ink blending foam. As you can see it’s a pretty simple card but, oh so effective!

I loved the nativity card for the unusual white on black colouring rather than black on white. The construction, again, is fairly simple but this really eye-catching effect is very pleasing!

 

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It’s all in the detail…

It’s all in the detail…Jayne Netley Mayhew is a wonderfully talented artist who first wielded a paintbrush at the tender age of two! All her siblings are artists too and Jayne has gone on to establish a reputation as a first-class wildlife artist and embroidery designer. She has produced a wide range of designs for Joanna Sheen Ltd over the years and her work is always immensely popular. We had a chat with Jayne to find out a bit more about the lady behind the paintbrush…

I think most people would say ‘Exquisite detail’ when they think of Jayne’s work. When she paints animals – big cats being her absolute favourite subject – she paints them hair by hair. “I just love detail!” she says. “If I have to paint a landscape, there has to be something detailed in the foreground or I just couldn’t take it on.”

She paints from real life as much as she can and when this isn’t possible, from photographs that her husband, Ian, takes for her. Jayne at work in her studio in Widecombe-in-the-Moor.

A great animal lover, Jayne has two huge pet dogs – Henry, a Newfoundland, and Dennis a Bernese Mountain Dog collie cross – that share Jayne and Ian’s home in Widecombe-in-the-Moor, in the heart of Dartmoor. She also keeps hens that she finds endlessly fascinating to watch and paint as they roam free-range in her garden. 

“Again, it’s all about the detail,” she says. Look at one of her chicken paintings and you can see every feather individually painted.

Jayne is unusual in that she works across a wide range of different media and is equally skilled in all of them. She was originally trained in oils by a local artist who gave Jayne, and her older brother an excellent grounding in painting. Next, she took up freehand embroidery and thrived on the incredibly detailed stitch work. Publishers David & Charles snapped Jayne up and suggested she’d like to look at developing cross stitch patterns for them. Sid the cockerel immortalised in watercolour.“I found these very easy to design, but drawing all the crosses by hand was really hard work but then, luckily, in came computers and it became a breeze!”

Today, Jayne works in acrylic, watercolour, pencil, pen and ink and pastels using whatever best suits her subject matter be it flora or fauna, big cat or new born chick. “Watercolour was a tricky technique to master as it is so unforgiving. With oil and acrylic you can over paint, but with watercolour it has to be perfect from the outset. I adore the subtlety and, of course, the detail that I can achieve with it,” said Jayne.

Always looking for something new to try, she has recently acquired a felting machine and is busily creating pictures with fibre and wool. “It’s a technique I am really enjoying experimenting with and I’ve been working on some miniatures, it’s really exciting.”

Look closely – very closely – at any Jayne Netley Mayhew painting and you will eventually find a ladybird hidden somewhere within the design. Jayne laughs: “It’s quite funny watching people look at my work as they usually This stunning tiger is created using felt, fibre and wool.peer at it very close up, and then say ‘Aha!’ and I know they’ve found the ladybird. Only then do they stand back and appreciate the painting properly.”

So it seems it’s all in the detail for Jayne’s fans, just as much as it is for her…

To find out more about Jayne and her work on her website.

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