And so, September…

The trusty hydrangea, attractive whatever stage it’s at!

I always feel September really is the turn of the year. There’s that Autumnal nip in the air, the earth smells different – richer somehow – and the days become noticeably shorter. It’s a time of year when you could start to feel melancholy if you weren’t careful. But rather than feel a gathering gloom, reflect and take a moment to savour… and then think of it as a time to plan ahead. The children have started their new school year and it’s harvest festival time, so that means home made harvesting projects like jams and preserves – so there’s plenty to do!

I used to find my garden looking rather forlorn at this time of year. To counter this, I made a point of ensuring I had plenty of plants that come into their own in the Autumn.

Fuchsia, always so pretty.

Hydrangeas became terribly unfashionable a few years ago, but I have always loved them – they are such good value! They go on and on flowering well into September and, nowadays there are so many stunning varieties to choose from, you are spoilt for choice. Allow the final flower heads of the year to stay on the plant, to provide winter interest… and I am sure I don’t need to tell you how wonderful they are dried in arrangements, or sprayed silver and gold for Christmas.

Fuchsias, so very pretty (I thought they looked like ballerinas when I was a child) cannot fail to brighten any garden. Make sure you choose a late-flowering variety such as ‘Marinka’ and you’re guaranteed extra autumn colour.

Japanese anemones.

I have become a recent convert to Japanese anemones, they look so elegant and delicate, yet they flower from August until late October and look fabulous at every stage. Whether tight bud, long-lasting flower or neatly spherical seed head, the Japanese anemone manages it perfectly. There are lots of lovely colours to choose from they are a really uplifting choice!

Try not to be too enthusiastic with the shears and secateurs (I know it’s tempting!) there are lots of flower heads you can leave on over winter to add interest. Here’s a few to leave and admire:

  • Hydrangeas (obviously!)
  • Teasels
  • Nigella
  • Nigella seed head.

    Echinops

  • Eryngiums
  • Artichokes
  • Poppies

And if you are still looking for positive things to do… start planting your spring bulbs!

 

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More seaside memories

As the last blog featured lost ice creams, I thought we should continue the theme of seaside memories but instead of cards, here are a couple of 3D projects that you can make using the Signature dies.

There are lots of inexpensive frames you can buy that are deep 3D designs. This beach scene would look lovely in a child’s bedroom or perhaps just the thing for a bathroom. Just like making a card, you build up the picture and I use Pinflair glue gel for attaching the die cuts as you can add height with larger blobs of glue. We have quite a few beach related designs in our section ‘On the Beach’, so you could chop and change the ingredients to suit you. Perhaps a set of three pictures featuring different beachy scenes would look nice?

Likewise, this wooden plaque makes a pretty ornament. How about hanging it from the door knob or drawer front? It’s an MDF base with the string stapled to the back. You can then add whatever ingredients you fancy. I love the ice cream image, so many happy memories!

Before I redecorated, I had a completely beach-inspired theme for one of my bathrooms. Red and white life belts as towel rings (ok they were bought not made!), a lighthouse lamp in one corner and baskets of beautiful shells! I have collected pretty shells for years and have oodles of them. My towels were striped red and white and blue and white, and the bath mat was cork so looked vaguely beachy! Now I have a much more traditional lavender and roses theme – rather predictable, but I love the big arrangement I created using dried roses and bunches of lavender for the windowsill and pretty towels embroidered with lavender.

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Creative chaos or just a mess?

As we all know on this blog, crafters are all pretty wonderful people! Of course, we are all different in what we like and don’t like and how we approach things. In our work, some of us are tidy and some of us messy. Does it matter if you have everything neatly stored and colour coordinated… or your desk (like mine!) is an eruption of colours and bits and pieces? The general view always seems to be that tidy is best. Well, hang on, there’s some good news for those of us on the messy end of the scale – I’ve just read that there is growing evidence that being tidy can actually hamper your creativity!

My desk, just now!

Being messy has its plus points. Messy can be read as ‘interesting’. If you stick to a strict regimen, you may well get lots done, but is what you produce any good, or original? A horrible term ‘thinking outside the box’ is, I think, meant to encourage you to look at things from a different, perhaps quirky angle. In a recent blog, I wrote about making the most of your dies and using them in different ways from how they were originally intended. It seems obvious, but sometimes, you just have to stand back a bit and let your mind wander… yes, I know, mine wanders a lot!

I think most of us would own up to having too much ‘stuff’ in our lives and can spend a lot of time trying to ‘de-clutter’. Just have a look at top-selling books on Amazon and you’ll see there’s a whole industry in it! But if you go too far the other way, that empty minimalist way of living can be too restricting. There’s nothing less inspiring than an empty wall.

Some really creative and clever people had chaotic desks. Asked to name a brainy person and many of us would come up with Einstein. I am pleased to report he had a fantastically messy desk! So too, apparently, does the domestic goddess Nigella Lawson, so there’s hope for us all.

The theory seems to be that a messy and chaotic approach to work and creativity often leads to a fresh way of thinking. There’s been lots of research done that proves that messy=creative. How many artists’ studios have you ever seen that are tidy?

Unfortunately, the idea that ‘messy is bad’ is taught to us from a very early age. But surely, being allowed to make a mess has to be a good thing if that is how you prefer to live or work. Trying to force yourself to be tidy cannot be a good way to live – how are you going to express yourself? And let’s face it; most children are happiest when they are allowed to make a mess!

Life is a messy business. So much of my ‘clutter’ is actually my ‘happy memory’ bank – photos of my parents, my granddaughter’s artworks, a shell I picked up on a far way beach… and so it goes on. As a fellow crafter, I am sure you know just what I mean. Enjoy your mess! Smiles, Joanna

 

 

 

 

 

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Is it a beach hut… or a shed?

I decided to do a blog about this card today to underline the flexibility of dies. Technically this is sold as a beach hut, (see my previous blog!) and very popular it is too, but I loved the use of it as a plain old garden shed. It fascinates me how a different paint job or colouring treatment or however you like to look at it, can turn it into something quite different.

I was reading an article the other day about ‘Man caves’ and thought how nice it must be for a husband to be able to choose everything without female input and have a little world that is completely his own. I offered Richard a shed down the garden and his response was: “What’s wrong with the garden shed we have now, it’s not full yet?” OK, he obviously doesn’t feel he needs a man cave, but time will tell!

However, in tandem with that article was one about ‘She sheds’ and it occurred to me how lovely it would be to have, say, a fairy garden interior, or whatever your favourite dream place is. I’m not sure if I have the time to do anything for now, but I do know I will be exploring the lovely ‘fairy door’ idea for spots in the garden to make sure Grace grows up with the same love of fairies and gardens as I have… Watch this space on the website is all I will say!

To go back to this card, the image was from ‘One Summer’s Day’ CD which features artwork by an American lady called Barbara Mock – such lovely designs on there, I do enjoy using it.

So how about a man’s card with a shed on it, or a card for a keen gardener with the door of the shed opening to have tools spilling out? So why not have a look at all your dies and ponder alternative uses for them!

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Keys to the Beach Hut!

Sadly, we don’t all have a fabulous little beach hut, but we do all need to keep keys somewhere! One of the best things about being a crafter is that our stash can be used for so many different things. Cardmaking, home decorations, scrapbooking, gift making and just plain old playtime for us!

This is a lovely example of two of those categories, you could make something like this as a gift or just to decorate your home. We all need somewhere to put those dratted keys (the ones I lose all the time), and hanging them on a pretty little set of hooks like this is very pleasing! I have a lovely big wooden key with hooks along it in my home, that was made for me by my baby brother when he was at school… um, quite upsetting to remember he has long since had his 50th birthday and runs a very successful pub in Crickhowell in Wales (The Kestrel Inn – I highly recommend the food!) but the key holder is still in place, hand made gifts mean a lot.

You can use MDF as a base or thin plywood or even a piece of thicker wood if you have easier access to that. Get drilling first and make some holes for the string – some chunky rough string looks good. Then start your choice of paint effect. This has been crackled with Weathered Wood – but you could do nice straight stripes or just paint it plain white, or blue or whatever you like.

Once the paint is dry, screw in the cup hooks at the bottom and die cut and colour your beach huts. If you want to make them more serviceable, you could add a layer of matt or glossy varnish or laminate them to make them stronger. Now add them to the plaque together with the seagulls using trusty Pinflair. Use a fair sized blob to make sure you have some height.

Thread the string through and knot – and away you go. This same idea could be utilised with so many different dies and designs.

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