Posts

Poppies, butterflies and lace

Poppies, butterflies and lace, such a pretty combination! This is a relatively quick and easy card and I love the finished effect. I have a pack of white lace edged hankies that my Mum thought would be useful for smarter occasions (she was never happy with the small packet of tissues solution). I am afraid I never really used them and they just sat in my cupboard, so I transferred them to my craft room in case I got inspiration.

You never know I might have fancied embroidering my initials or screen printing…. ok, stop being silly, you ended up cutting them up for card making – much more realistic!

So, to make this pretty background, I folded the square hanky into four and then across that quarter to make a pointed shape as you would with an icing bag. I cut across the plain cotton in the centre to remove the bulk and was left with a handkerchief with a massive hole in the middle.

Using red liner tape as it is that much stronger than double sided, I added at least two strips to each edge. Then gently press and shape the handkerchief around, the red liner tape will let you reposition a bit and make it fit the square card. Add more pleats if it’s a bit big.

The main image comes from the Jane Shasky poppies pad. I layered the topper up on blue and green card to make it nice and study and then using tons of glue gel placed it over the fabric. Press gently and then leave to dry overnight.

Finishing touches were extra butterflies provided on the sheet.

6 Comments

In love with Orchids!

This gorgeous Orchid image comes from the Barbara Anderson pad, I have enjoyed working with this pad more than any other product this year I think. The cards you can create are just beautiful in my opinion and there’s nothing more satisfying than standing back and looking at your latest card and being happy you have produced a truly stunning design!

I have used two Signature dies with this card – Tessa Lace SD246 and the English Rose SD587. I really recommend both dies but particularly the rose die, it has come in so handy for many cards recently. My choice with flower dies is to die cut in white and colour with Promarkers, but if you aren’t a fan of colouring then it’s easy to die cut in several colours and paper piece the design together.

The backing paper I have used here is interesting. I collect (ok, I hoard) a lot of old rubbish, says Richard, but this is an instance when it comes in handy. I have several old (like, 1800 old!) receipts and pieces of paperwork. I scanned them and then printed them out. If you are clever on the computer you can assemble a collage of the bits on there in Photoshop or some other program, however I did it the old fashioned way. I cut some plain white card to the size I wanted for the backing paper (7” x 7” from memory) and then trimmed and shuffled the printed bits around until I was happy. You could do this with many different things – scraps of fabric, pieces of lace, leftover pieces of backing paper. Just have fun playing!

Add some ribbon (which, by the way, was ivory satin and I coloured it with a Promarker) and the pieces from the pad sheet and there you go, a really stunning Orchid card!

4 Comments

A really ‘wow’ tulip card!

This gorgeous tulip design is one of those ‘wow’ cards that looks amazing but is really quick and easy. It’s a great card for scoring brownie points from someone who isn’t a huge fan of handmade cards!

You will need the Butterfly Cloud die and die cut it 8 times in white card. Organise some pale blue card matted on a petrol or darker blue and then mat the topper from the Jane Shasky Garden Delights pad on the same darker blue.

Attach the blue backing to the 8” x 8” card blank and then stick the butterfly die cuts down onto the pale blue. If you twist and tweak them you can line up three down each side and fill in the gap top and bottom with diecut seven and eight. Obviously the middle can stay plain as you will be covering it.

Attach the topper to the card using foam tape to help it stick over the die covered backing card. Then snip out the extra decoupage pieces on the sheet from the pad and add those using glue gel. Finally add the sentiment top right, or wherever you choose.

It’s fun to make, simple and very impressive!

6 Comments

A bit of a swagger!

As I think many of you know, I have spent a great many hours of my life cutting, drying and arranging flowers both for work projects and also for my own personal pleasure, especially at Christmas. It’s a hobby I love and never tire of. Those of you who have read my latest novel ‘The Proof is in the Pudding’ will know that this keen interest of mine has even crept into a murder mystery!

But anything I have ever produced as a Christmas decoration pales into insignificance next the utterly extraordinary giant swag that, every Christmas, graces the Great Hall in Cotehele in Cornwall. Although this National Trust property dates back to Tudor times, the yuletide tradition of decking the Great Hall with a garland is a relatively recent one. Begun in the 1950s, the Christmas flower garland is now firmly established as one of Cotehele’s annual highlights.

Every November, gardeners and volunteers at Cotehele create the 60ft long Christmas garland using thousands of flowers grown on the estate. The giant swag hangs in the Great Hall throughout the festive season and, if you are anywhere near Saltash on the Cornwall/Devon border between now and 6th January 2018… I urge you to go! You will need to book, so do have a look on the website before you set off.

Preparations for the garland begin almost a year earlier in February when the flower seeds are sown and planted in early spring in the Cut Flower Garden. The gardeners pick them daily during the summer, strip their leaves and carefully hang them in the potting shed to dry. Stripping the leaves from each individual stem is one of the most time-consuming elements in the garland-preparation process. Typically, the gardeners would like about 30,000 flowers in the garland – yes THIRTY THOUSAND!!

One of the things I love about this magical project is that, rather than following a standard design, each year the garland is different and depends on which of the specially grown flowers have done well. The garland often includes ornamental grasses, paper daisy, paper rose, statice and garden thrift.

Creating the garland is a task that involves Cotehele’s gardeners and volunteers using scaffolding to add flowers into the growing festive display. The results are spectacular, not only because of the stunning visual impact the garland makes but also because of the months of work, skill and care that has gone into creating it.

Photo:  The Christmas swag at Cotehele – photo copyright National Trust, go to their website for more information and photos

 

8 Comments

Simple pleasures…

As we get older, I think we become more aware of ‘simple’ pleasures’, well I know I do! The smell of coffee brewing, freshly cut grass or hearing an owl hoot – all simple things that give immense pleasure.

I read the other day that Vita Sackville-West (she of Sissinghurst Garden fame, amongst other things…) used the term ‘through leaves’ to describe simple pleasures enjoyed by her family. She coined the phrase after “the small but intense pleasure of kicking through leaves while out walking”, which I thought was rather lovely.

Another classic, that I expect almost all of us know, are the lyrics to the song ‘My favourite things’ from the Sound of Music, including whiskers on kittens, warm woollen mittens and brown paper packages tied up with string.

It’s so easy to think that pleasures have to be big and expensive, like holidays, or fancy clothes… but I think we start to appreciate the simple things the more we experience life. You often hear people who have survived cancer, or cheated death in an accident or natural disaster, say how they appreciate every day, every moment, and are more aware of what’s around them.

I had a think about my ‘through leaves’ moments, and came up with the following list:

  • The smell of baking bread (thanks to Richard and his bread maker!)
  • Little Grace running towards me with her arms open
  • A beautiful sunset (or dawn, but that’s rare!)
  • Hearing my daughters say a casual I love you
  • Finishing a card and sitting back and thinking – that’s a keeper!

My co-author Julia was here (we were busy having a book signing session!) and I asked her, for her ‘Through leaves’ moments and she said:

  • Standing in the middle of her runner bean arch(!)
  • Being greeted by her dog, Moss, in the morning
  • Watching beech leaves unfurl in spring
  • Walks on frosty mornings
  • Birdsong

So what are your ‘through leaves’ moments? Do let me know… smiles, Joanna

 

18 Comments