Thursday, 21 July 2016

New overhead camera rig!

My husband has just got around to fixing me up with an overhead camera rig! I've wanted one for ages, so that I could more easily make crafting videos - hard to do without one.

It was quick and easy, a few plumbing pipes and joins and a screw fitting, all done in 10 minutes and it can be dismantled when I need the space!

So, incase you have not visited it recently, my youtube channel now has a few new videos of recent projects.

I plan to do many more, at the moment there is not much different in the software side, so screen recordings are not so necessary, although I have done one on Procreate recently, after they updated the app.

If you like the channel please give a thumbs up and subscribe, I'm still a small fish in a big pond and I am not sponsored by anyone, I do it for the love of crafting.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

Procreate App Update

So exciting!

Procreate  has launched an updated version with LOTS of improvements!

This is one of two iPad apps that I use for my freehand artwork, this is a painting/drawing app that is not only amazing value for money (NO SPONSORSHIP HERE!) but really good at what it does.

See my video here.

While the interface is clean and friendly, this is a full function art app. Whether you are looking for an app for a child to use or for yourself; for hobby or professional use, Procreate will do so much that far more expensive and complicated desktop software does.

Improvements this time round include a smoothing action for brushes and a range of screen shortcuts that will speed up work/play flow.

In my case, I use it on an iPad Pro 9 inch version, with an Apple Pencil and I absolutely love it. As a more traditional artist normally, I love how the app translates into a digital medium, all the things I normally use on paper.

Brushes in this app are extremely powerful tools. Use the presets and alter them in hundreds of ways, or very easily create your own. Like spray brushes that spray pictures/ clipart? No problem. Lock and load and shower your canvas! Like Calligraphy? Use the new smoothing action on brushes or pens for a hyper dreamy stroke that flows like warm honey.

Cut, copy and paste in either freehand mode or a special auto select mode; apply transformations at the slide of your pen or finger. Change the opacity or size of your strokes quickly and easily.

Use the advanced menu to set shortcuts for desired actions and choose the method of selecting them.

In short, this app is BRILLIANT. 

Available from the App Store.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Update on Cheaper way to Airbrush makeup

Just out of curiosity, I decided to look into other possible alternatives to specific airbrush makeup, after my previous post.

Having found that I could happily dilute water based makeup, I did some research at my local shops to see what was available that maybe could be airbrushed without alteration.

I found some Gosh Foundation Drops. They seemed pretty thin and my hopes were raised.  I emailed Gosh to ask if they were silicone or oil based - looking at the label they looked to me to be silicone but I wanted confirmation.
DIMETHICONE  is the 4th ingredient
ARGANIA SPINOSA KERNEL OIL is only at number 10...

The reply was that they are OIL based, something that the ingredient list does not seem to hold up.
I bought some and tried airbrushing with them, only to find they gum up the brush and sputter rather than spray, so at the very least, they need thinning. However, attempts to clean it out with oil (which if oil based should work) were unsuccessful and it took ages to get the remains out of my airbrush!

This leads me to suspect that I am right and it is Silicone based instead. Which is a problem, since I can't find any Silicone airbrush cleaner or makeup thinner to dilute it with. Hmm.

However, if you want to apply it in the traditional way, it works fine with a beauty blender or dabbed on with fingers and buffed in with a brush. It gives a great finish and cover can be built up if that is your preference.

Looking at the internet once again, I found MAC have a service where you can ask (by various means) a MUA questions about products, application and so on.

I asked if any of their makeup could be used in an airbrush, this is the reply, you may find it interesting.
The reply was very thorough and speedy, I was impressed with their level of service!

 Hello Sandra:
Thank you for your inquiry.   I am happy to help!
You can by all means use our Studio Waterweight and Face & Body Foundations for airbrushing.  If you are finding these formulas to be too thick, I suggest diluting them with our Airbrush Cleanser for smoother delivery.

Our skin conditioning Studio Waterweight SPF 30 Foundation is virtually weightless with a 'serum-meets-water' feel and 8 hours of long wear. It delivers sheer to medium buildable coverage, and a natural satin finish. The ultra-fluid formula is so lightweight that there is no appearance of texture on the skin while silica and mica help optically blur skin imperfections.
For flawless-looking skin, apply Mineralize Timecheck Lotion to your face. Use the 196 Brush to apply Studio Waterweight SPF 30 Foundation to create an even, perfected finish.
MAC Studio Face and Body Foundation provides ultra-natural, lightweight coverage that blends smoothly and leaves your skin with a long-lasting, water-resistant finish. For a flawless finish, apply with MAC #109 Small Contour Brush in firm, circular motions. Choose one of our "C" shades if your skin has golden undertones, and a shade in the "N" category if your skin has rosy undertones.
Ultimately, however, MAC Micronized Airbrush Formula is deveoped for use in the airbrush system.  It is a cutting edge silicone-based Airbrush Formula for face and body developed expressly for Makeup Artists working in High Definition TV, film and beauty. It comes in a comprehensive range of skin tones, neutrals, primary/secondary and skin adjuster shades. This fluid, highly pigmented formula can be poured directly into the airbrush gun  or diluted with the cleanser.
MAC Airbrush Cleanser goes beyond cleaning the Airbrush Gun. Through regular use, it can extend the life of your Airbrush Gun. Airbrush Cleanser can be mixed into MAC Micronized Airbrush Formula to sheer down the formula or alter the coverage.
For your convenience, you may view your recommended products on our Web site by visiting us at:

A much more involved answer than I had expected.

Since I live in Spain and have no MAC Pro stores to hand, although I may find the idea of getting that cleanser or even some airbrush makeup tempting, it's going to be hard to get hold of without paying a lot of postage no doubt. I'll have to keep looking.

So, for those of you with a MAC store handy, there may be some promising solutions, if you wish to use an airbrush without being bound to specific brands.

BTW, this blog is NOT sponsored in any shape or form.


Sunday, 26 June 2016

Non airbrush makeup in airbrush!

Now, before you get any ideas that I am now doing makeup tutorials, just don't. I mentioned in my last post that I had got a mini compressor and airbrush kit, what I  don't have, is any airbrush makeup to use with it. The kit came from Amazon at around €35 in total.

Has it stopped me? No!

I used some WATER BASED liquid foundation, putting it in a tiny bottle, added a couple of drops of glycerine, a couple of stainless steel ballbearings and topped up with water.  If you use a silicone based foundation you will have to use a specialist foundation thinner, this one won't work. If you really want to, you could add a couple of drops of alcohol to make it dry faster but I didn't.

The foundation was from DOMTI and made in Italy, so although only €2, I am fairly sure it is safe, conforming to EU regs. The glycerine I  used was from the chemist at around €5 for 500ml it will last a VERY long time, even with me using it for crafts!

So this has to be about the cheapest airbrush makeup on the planet.

Coverage -see this video.  It isn't a tutorial and I am not doing a full makeup in it.

 I don't want the heavy made up look. I'm too old for it, not that I ever went heavy anyway, but there is nothing worse than makeup settling into all the laughter lines and crows feet. I am well into my 50's, have very sensitive skin and I have found that this allows me to even out my skin tone without looking made up. However, if you are younger, there is nothing to stop you layering this on to your taste.

A note to any manufacturers out there -

I, like many, are not going to buy makeup on line, especially from the States without having been able to sample it. It would be really great if someone could put a line into the high streets, to go alongside the normal stuff, or even have demonstrators in some UK/European stores on a regular basis, using airbrushes.
Do I really want to have to make up my own recipe? No! But if I can't buy it off the shelf, I am left with no alternative.
Many of the airbrush makeup brands are professional only or more for body art and I have not found any side by side comparisons that are unbiased.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Mini compressor and airbrush kit for Craft, Makeup or Cake decorating

Those who read my blog or watch my videos may be aware that I like airbrushing. Sometimes I use it to paint pictures, sometimes I want to airbrush cakes and sometimes I want to add colour to cards etc.

Now I have a serious Iwata airbrush and a small but not desktop compressor that work really well. However, it is a bit much to transport or to take to the kitchen and I fancied a smaller set up for that.

I bought a kit, just a mini compressor and single action airbrush from Amazon, for around €35, so thought I'd let you know what I think of it.

Firstly, the compressor. It's tiny, light, very quiet and pumps out at up to 25 PSI, with 3 different settings. The settings show up in different colour lights on the single button. It comes with a plastic push on hose. It is designed to be used with very thin liquids, like airbrush make up, food colouring etc.

In comparison, my larger compressor, although about the size of a shoe box, is not really desk top size and is probably a couple of kg. It has a tougher, screw on hose and can pump out up to about 45 PSI. It can be used with thicker acrylic airbrush paints etc as well as the thin stuff.

The airbrush that comes with the kit is single action, which does limit your paint control- my double action Iwata gives precise control - as it should, since it costs about 10 times the price of a cheap one. (You can get cheap double action airbrushes for around £10-20 - you don't have to go really pricey, although they are not so easy to find on mini compressor kits, without paying more than you would if bought separately.)

The kit, used as is, should be fine for airbrush makeup, or for cake decorating, or for doing basic card backgrounds, ombre effects and stencilling - but it can be improved by using a slightly better airbrush than it comes with. Regards make up, I think it would be fine for foundation and blush, eye make up may be a tad trickier to apply but can probably be done with practice. (If there is a manufacturer who'd like to send me some samples, I'd be happy to test them, they didn't have airbrush makeup when I did my beauty therapy courses!)

So, my verdict is that it does what it claims to do, is good value and as long as you don't expect miracles, you should be happy!

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Cutting Fondant with an Electronic Cutter

Actually, that is a bit of a misnomer, as what I really mean is cutting flower paste/sugar paste/ Gum paste.

By those terms I refer to a specially stiffened sugar dough, usually by means of a gum additive that makes it harden like rock when it is dry.

Anyway, after my recent cake decorating, where I did it all by hand, I thought it would have made sense to learn how to cut this stuff on the Silver Bullet, if it were possible. I'm happy to say it is!

Don't bother trying to cut fondant, it lacks the smooth strength of gum paste, it is a waste of time. Neither would I try cutting fondant mixed with tylose in it's usual (1/4 tsp per 250g) quantity, for the same reason. That may be ok for some flowers cut by hand but the machine will tear it not cut it.

There are two recipes widely available that I have found to be successful.
The first by Linda McClure ,  made especially for this purpose, and the other by Nicholas Lodge    which although not advertised as such does the job.

While the recipes are different (Nicholas wins on the no fuss scale), they both have huge amounts of Tylose powder, in comparison to normal usage. Generally this stuff is used in very tiny amounts by domestic users.

With Linda's recipe I had to substitute a couple of things. Leaf gelatine instead of powder - 6 small leaves to each tablespoon of powdered gelatine - i.e. enough to set a pint of jelly.  It did make it easier, just soak it in the water, warm for a few seconds in the M/W to dissolve it and add the melted white fat and (in my case, another sub, Glycerine, not corn syrup or Glucose).  While Tylose dries things out, glycerine and glucose etc keep things pliable.  The resulting paste is more like a plastic than fondant at the end of the process. 

Linda said that a pasta roller was needed. Well I don't have one, rolling out thinly and then folding and rolling again a few times did the trick.

Now both pastes need to be rolled onto the mat and left to rest until they stiffen up a bit. Just cover the rolled paste with plastic or clingfilm. It will depend on your climate how long you will need to leave it. Both recipes should be left for a day before trying to roll and machine cut it anyway. The Tylose needs time to work.

To cut it, I used a dedicated mat, blade holder and blade (although I do stress, I am not making things to be edible!)  I used a 45 degree blade but extended it to the fullest - not for the thickness as it is rolled really thin, but to keep as much out of the housing as possible!  I cut at a speed of 800 - going slower isn't always a good option,  and with a force of only 13.
White vegetable fat sparingly smeared on the mat holds it in place.

I think I remember hearing somewhere, that if you want to cut intricate things, to put the paste on card and cut on that without a mat, but I couldn't swear to it.. but cutting out flower petals works well.

If you want to try this, don't try to hurry the process, you will most likely end up frustrated and throwing things around the kitchen, and you don't want to do that with gum paste, it's sticky.

Here is a video  on how I make flowers with the petals I cut out.


I did some more cutting today, this using the NL Gum Paste. I wanted to cut out some more intricate stuff. Petals can't be cut in too firm a paste because they need to be worked afterwards, so this had been cut very thin and relatively moist.

It took quite a few attempts, probably because it is quite warm and humid here. I tried freezing the rolled paste but it couldn't stay frozen long enough to cut much. So I added some cornflour and kneaded it in so that it was so stiff I could barely roll it (aah, that's why the pasta machine!)

I greased my mat, added greaseproof paper, greased that and then applied the gum paste. I used a 60 degree blade, extended to a number 6 on my holder and a pressure of 22 with the speed at 800.
The small flowers are about 1cm across.

So the key seems to be to make the paste as stiff as you can possibly work it and make sure it can't move on the mat.  So maybe a really stiff fondant would work after all, I just know the one I use doesn't.

Maybe in winter I could even cut cookie dough but I think I'll give that a miss for now! Maybe a Christmas project.....:)

Sunday, 22 May 2016

My Idea of A Birthday Cake

I recently made a Birthday Cake.  Thought I would share the photos here - oh and did I mention cup cakes too?
Bigger things are happening..
Much bigger..
If that has got your mouth watering, read on....
Getting more interesting...but this pic has a strange angle!
And here is the finished cake. In case you wonder, it is special cake
fireworks behind the topper. They were spectacular!

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Foiling for Card Making and Scrapbooking

This is, strictly speaking, not a blog post. It came to my attention that there is going to be a sale of Foil Master foiling machines.

I don't have one myself as I do very little foiling but I thought I would post here in case there are any crafters out there looking for one. 

To anyone looking for a Foil Master foiling machine, Thyme Graphics in the UK, has them on sale, starting on Monday 9th May 2017. Down to £99 from £135! If you ask Dawn there, she may also have some cosmetically damaged ones for as little as £75 - they will not show up on the website.
I'm not on commission, I get nothing from this except the satisfaction of knowing I have helped someone get a bargain.


Monday, 18 April 2016

Important Message

I have enjoyed making this blog but it is getting very little traffic in comparison to my Youtube channel.  Due to the amount of time that it takes to add posts here I have made the decision to stop, at least for the time being. The blog will remain an archive.

For those who have not noticed, I have kept making videos and will concentrate on those, only adding things here when extra explanation is needed or if I want to post photos of projects.

Happy crafting,


Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Watercolour Masking Fluid and Opaque White Pens

I have been away in the UK, so apologies for lack of posts. I have been making things, but I don't do blogs on putting kitchen cabinets together... though maybe I should...:)

While in the UK, I had a few minutes in Hobbycraft and Rymans, neither of which had the masking fluid I wanted to try, so it came courtesy of Amazon Prime (thanks to our younger son!)

Back home, I have had a chance to try it out and I am pleased with it. Unlike it's look in promotional pics, it is white in the bottle but when applied and dried, it is clear. This makes it great for use on all colours of paper or card (disclaimer here - masking fluids of all types may not work well on soft seized paper).

To use it - don't shake just dip your brush in the liquid and paint onto a DRY surface. Allow to dry or speed it up GENTLY with a dryer, before removing. I use either a finger or a soft eraser. This is definitely going to be my main masking fluid. Coloured ones often stain and although you can get away with that often in a water colour painting, in card making, it's more of an issue.

My trip to Rymans, was actually for something they didn't have but I couldn't pass on a quick browse and ended up with two types of white pen. I have the usual fine paint type markers but they do have a tendency to get messy or stop flowing. I'd heard good reports of the Signo but nothing of the Pentel one, so got both (under £3 each).

My favourite is the Signo by Uni-ball. Don't get me wrong, both write with fluidity but the Pentel is not as opaque, chalkier looking. I suspect, but have not tried, that with the Uni -ball, you could also heat emboss. Both take a little drying time but the Uni-ball is bright opaque white, which is what I usually want.

So there you are, my honest opinion. Unsponsored as usual!

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Distress Ink Alternative

I've noticed for a while, a trend for card demonstrators to use 'Distress Inks' to create softly blended backgrounds or areas for cards.
Often we see that the demonstrator has a vast collection of inks (not to mention stamps and dies!) that most of us would sell our souls, spouses and children for. While they may make very interesting and informative videos, they are often in the business, their supplies are business expenses, not personal purchases like ours.
Of course, when you try to make a similar card, you don't have the supplies. Never the right colour or type of ink, is often going to be the case.

As someone who has a vast range of colouring methods at my disposal, one thing I don't have is distress ink, neither, because of the aforementioned supplies, can I condone myself buying any. Yes, I can airbrush but for a 30 second job, don't always want to.

So today, I was considering what distress inks are. They have to have some kind of water base, as they appear to be water rather than oil blended. I tried out straight watercolour, sponged or smoothed on with a variety of tools but ended up with very unsatisfactory results. In a lot of cases, the paper pilled and looked terrible, because of the friction of rubbing paint on, even gently. Hmm. That didn't work.

I then thought of something else to try. I have a few embossing inks, and I remember that distress inks can also emboss - so they must have something in them that stays wet. Glycerine came to mind. A water soluble oil. An oxymoron if ever there was one, but a very useful oxymoron.

So I tried mixing glycerine with my normal ink pad ink, palette watercolours and liquid watercolour.
It works. You can even sprinkle on water and blot it off, another popular technique. To see how I applied it, have a look at the video, it couldn't get much easier. Even works with washable felt tip pens (AKA  children's pens!) Problem solved, money saved for much more important things, like UV light bulbs, black vinyl...

So, if you have ANY form of watercolour, think about giving it a try, unless you have loads of distress inks, in which case you probably won't like me much!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Concepts App for iPads Revisited.

I have had this app for a while, and while I am not expert at it, I can certainly use it more easily now.
Video link  Download link
Part of this is down to me, part is improvements in the App functionality. There were glitches that really bugged me but most of those have now been resolved, especially with the latest Beta that I am testing.

Having managed to break my old iPad mini before Christmas and getting the V4 of it, there were some issues but those are now resolved.

So, my revised opinion of the app is that it is probably the most versatile drawing app for the iPad that you will use. Get the Pro version, as I did ( it isn't expensive for goodness sake) and it unlocks many more features that you expect from a high end art package.

If you are capable of drawing on a tablet at all, this app gives you the opportunity to edit any or all strokes after you have made them, meaning that you do less erasing and more drawing. A line not in the right place? Just move it. Want it thicker? Make it so. Want it smoothed? Smooth it. Not a problem. All strokes are fully editable.

Concepts accepts the use of many stylus happily, just pair it up and off you go. Pressure sensitivity is built in. The personal preferences has a range of options that should satisfy most users.

Your favourite tools are kept nice and neat on the side, there is even a Copic Colour Wheel, so if you need to use those colours they are at your finger tips.

Choose from different drawing tools and vary how they look, width, transparency, etc. Layers can be automatic or manual. The selection tool can be used like a lasso or you can tap and hold (the length of hold can be adjusted).

There is a specialist mode - Precision mode - more suited to specific design work such as architecture or room plans, that type of thing. As well as having measuring capabilities, it has true shapes for you to use, not something I am into but there are many who would find it invaluable.

As well as doing your own drawing, you can import images to work on and you can also export whatever you draw. Many modes to export in, such as SVG, PNG, DXF, JPEG and more.

For those designing for cutting machines, it is worth noting that saving to SVG saves your images as a series of thin lines or shapes, the line is drawn down the middle of whatever line you draw, no matter how thick it is, not the exterior edges of it.  So if you want to make it into a cut file, unless it is plain solid shapes, export it as a PNG or JPEG to trace in your cutter software.
The beauty of tracing anything from Concepts, is that because it draws as a Vector, tracing is usually pretty easy and clean and the images are easily resized to suit your needs.

One of the uses for this app is writing in your own hand to use in other applications. This is great if you have a stylus, your own sentiments for cards, in your own writing, to cut on your plotter...

I use Concepts to make images, trace them with SCAL and then cut them out for templates to make Polymer stamps. Doubt if many others have done that yet but I am sure there are many varied uses for it! It's easy compared with tracing a hand drawing - the lines can be true solid colour making them far better for tracing. I can even make them all the same width once the drawing is completed or make some thinner than others.

So my verdict is 'Well Done'  Concept team. A truly decent drawing app for a reasonable price, with the kind of features designers are used to paying a LOT more for.  No tying in to subscriptions, no hundreds of pounds to buy, and a team that takes the trouble to sort out problems and listen to feed back. Keep it up guys (and girls!).

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Various Cards I made Today!

I was in the mood to play around today. Mainly playing with colour. Colour can change everything about a card, combinations can make or break a design.

The very simplest of cards.

This is card making at it's most simplistic. Sentiment and images stamped on a folded white card base. The presents are stamped with Versamark and shimmery eye shadows brushed on. (It can work really well if the colours are suitable!)

Starting with a pink card to mount, I drew a pattern of lines and dots with a silver pen. The sentiment was stamped in a darker version of the pink and then again with Versamark. I used clear embossing powder to make it stand out. The piece was then mounted on foam and applied to the white card base.

Now it starts to get a bit more interesting. Watercolour is dropped onto a slick flat surface and the card is swished into it randomly. More colours are added, one at a time until the desired pattern is achieved. The paint is allowed to dry and water drops splashed onto it and mopped up, taking colour out in places. Sentiment is added and embossed, and a few stones and stars stuck on. The whole thing is foam mounted on white base.

With this one, two washes of colour were applied with a round brush. It was allowed to dry more on one part than the other, splashed with water and mopped again. The pink part is softer in effect because the water was dripped onto a wet paint. Sentiment stamped and embossed and trim applied before mounting on foam.  NB. This was done with Kroma Kolor  airbrush food colouring! (just because I can!)

The rose was stamped with Versamark and then I brushed on Pearl Ex. I then used a water brush and pale blue watercolour to fill in the background. The outer edge was rimmed with alcohol marker in the same colour. Sentiment stamped and a few gems applied.

See what a difference colour makes!  the same rose, stamped on pink card this time, before applying the Pearl Ex. The white card had lines and dots applied in silver pen, and the sentiment was stamped and embossed. It shimmers nicely but you can't see that in the photo! I picked out the lines in sliver pen and fussy cut the rose before foam mounting it.

The main colour here was applied with two different brushes, one in wide  sweeps, the other in narrower lines. 

More of a graduated wash with this one, again the pattern is drawn in silver pen. Framing with a darker marker makes a big difference.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Photo polymer stamp making Details

OK, finally got around to making a real time video of the stamp making process!

This is the stuff I am using, I decant it because when the liquid is so viscous, it makes more sense to be able to store it upside down...this way I can use every last drop.

Polymer Details

Super Clear   is the one I have. Different polymers will have different curing times.

12 Stevern Way
+44 1733 34 9937  is the address on the original bottle.

23015N. 15th Avenue, Suite 105, Phoenix AZ 85027, USA  is also listed.

The dam tape can be shaped according to the stamp. (This pic was taken  after the stamp was made) It shows the excess polymer over the black areas and the clean areas where it has been developed.

The timer I used for developing is an iPhone app, it needs to be accurate.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

3 Layer Flip card - Free File - SVG format

I have made a card here that is often done with metal dies. It isn't hard to put together but there are a lot of bits.

 The base is actually made of a patterned card, folded so that the pattern is INSIDE. This is because the front panel with all the flips is cut from a patterned card the same size as the front, so the base is not seen. You may want to make another plain panel for the inside.

Once you decide which pieces to use, (there are a couple of design options in the file), make the front panel first, working from the front to back. I changed my mind a couple of times on the front design, in the end I put glue in the flower and filled it with glitter but you could use glitter paper behind the cut out, either way will work. Or leave out the glitter, up to you!

The middle panel has a blank backing, for adding a sentiment of your choice or stamped image.

The back panel has a decorative cut out, backed with a metallic card, that adds a bit of wow factor.

The white frames are optional but they do add a nice touch. The ribbon is wrapped around the inside of the card  and just tied in a bow on the front.

TIP - I have found that acrylic art varnish in a tiny precision tip bottle is excellent for glueing decorative items in place. I suspect it may be similar to the Tim Holtz multi matt medium that a lot of card makers use, except mine is not matt! This container cost around €6 for 100ml and should last a long time. The bottle comes from a 'Vape' shop - the only use I have for such places! At under €1 it is a great and cheap alternative to expensive ones from craft stores.

Back panel - pretty enough on it's own!

I actually intended to put a small version of this on the front, I cut it out in vinyl the size of a postage stamp. The Silver Bullet cut it out easily enough, but it was so small I couldn't see what bits to weed out! Lol, the joys of crafting in bad light...
Here is the file  Grab it fast, I don't keep them in Dropbox for long!
I saved it to SVG at 90 dpi. Check the sizing before cutting. My card was 10.5cm square.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Simply Sweet

This one is a quick and easy card with just a couple of stamped images.
Terrence the Town Mouse is smartly dressed in his best trousers and waistcoat, his heart filled with love..

The sentiment could be for a birthday, Valentines or many other occasions. He won't be late because he is wearing his pocket watch!  The striped green background complements his figure, the stamped shape panel adds interest.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Molotow Masking Pens - Update - not suitable!


I think I mentioned here somewhere that I had bought a couple of Molotow masking pens. I'm used to using masking fluid but it is a bit of a pain to apply, so thought the pen option may be better.
When I got them, I tried one out, just a couple of lines on paper and thought, yep, they work, fine.

However, the other day I was doing some stamping and wanted to watercolour around it. I used a pen and it was disastrous. The blue stained, I couldn't get it to draw smoothly and when I did try to remove it, it took the paper with it.

This wasn't just on one piece either, I tried card and two sorts of watercolour. None were successful.

I tried taking the fluid out of the pen and using it normally, that sort of worked, I replaced the fluid in the pen with another brand, that didn't work.

On contacting the manufacturer, I got this reply.

Thank you for the fast answer and the pictures, this is very helpful. Yes, generally masking liquid is not a new producct on the market so we are sure you were able o get experience with it in the past. How ever the mixcure or the masking liquid we are offering is adjusted to the use / applycation with a marker. 

This of course makes it much easyer to use, carry and store. How ever, when used by certain traditional techniques, has its limitations. 

You have described that you have filled one of our empty (rinsed) markers with some masking liquid (non Molotow™) and it didnt work. This is possible, since this is a special fluid and we can not guarantee its function in our empty marker system. 

As for the reaction with the tip, when applying on watercolor paper. This kind of paper, judging by the pictures is a soft porous paper. Of course the tip is harder then a brush, so its easyer to damage the paper, especially when its wet. The second aspect you need to consider is the flow of the masking liquid and the drying time. The ammount of liquid which can be applyed is limited, and the material you are using, since its porous surely needs a lot more, then for instance a coated paper. This means that when you apply it with a brush, you create a thicker layer, fill the pours insede ad therefore dont experience any problems. 

Should you have any questions please feel free to contact us. 

So basically they are saying it is not suitable for this use. Which would be fine if any of their advertising had said as much. Others have had similar problems with the masking pen, so I'm sorry, I don't advise using them for the sort of stuff card makers do. 

As for the company that actually sold it to me, I have not heard back from them at all....not impressed!

Friday, 5 February 2016

Big Dog, Lots of Love

Here is a card I made with one of MY stamp designs.
Not the best colouring in, my pen was giving up on me!   Actually this card was plagued from the start, I was going to mask the dog with my Molotow masking pen. The first one I did, the pen stained the dog blue - no idea why, I have emailed the manufacturers. So I did the next one but couldn't be bothered to cut a mask, so my watercolour isn't as planned either! Then I decided I wanted some squiggles either side of the black writing and managed to mess those up... Oh well, we all get one of those days sometimes!

If you would like to buy the stamp, you can get it here, post is free.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Rapid EGPoint mini Hot Glue Gun Review

Firstly let me say that I am not sponsored for this or anything else, it is just my honest review, to help when you are choosing a new Glue Gun.

Because I am a paper crafter, most of the times when I want a glue gun, I want a nice fine point, so that glue goes where I want it to go and nowhere else.

I've had several HGGs over the years but none, until this one have proved to be very satisfactory.
I have been using this one for a few months now and can happily say it is the best I have used for this type of stuff.

It takes 7mm glue sticks but unlike most, it has a lovely fine tip.  It is also possible to remove the cable and use it for a few minutes without it - which can be handy in tight spaces, or if your power socket is not handy.

I will qualify this by saying that the first one I had was faulty. It was one of those things I suppose, it just didn't appear to get hot enough to dispense the glue. However, when I rang customer service, they were very helpful and immediately replaced it for me. I had wondered if it would be a problem, since it had been a gift and I didn't know where it had been bought, but no, it was fine.

The replacement has been working perfectly, so I thought I would show you a good use for that fine tip!

Make embossing plates!

Background papers become easy.

A word of caution, you don't need a really heavy pressure to emboss with this, too heavy and you will tear the card!

Of course it does all the other usual things, like glueing cards together, attaching ribbons etc. In the previous post, I used it to raise cut out letters from the card because they were too fine to use foam tape.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Using stamps for pattern backgrounds

Sometimes, when I don't have a specific project in mind, I find myself turning to playing around with something simple. Like stamps. Floral stamps have many uses, one of which is being used to make background patterned papers.

Like this one.

But it doesn't have to stop there. Think about adding another stamp layer, not necessarily lined up, and then heat emboss with a metallic powder.

I cut this piece into smaller sections to make several cards. All similar but slightly different.

Even though the paper design is pretty much the same (two embossed), they are made different by the  choice of matting and type of sentiment. Sometimes simple is good. Matting is generally scraps of card left over from other things but it can be card, ribbon or paper.

A quick tip for tying bows - adhere the ribbon to the back of the card and then use tiny pieces of double sided tape to temporarily stick the card to the table. Tie the bow . It is easy enough to pry the card loose again. 

To get the' Sending Hugs' and 'Hello' were cut from pearlised card with my Silver Bullet. I never get bored of watching that machine cut text!   To make them stand proud, I applied hot glue to the backs and allowed it to dry, then stuck them on to the cards. (Don't have glue dots here!)  You could also use small gems, maybe ones that are in colours you don't use often!

The 'just a note' was cut out in vinyl on acetate, I used a transparent double sided gel tape to adhere it.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

A5 'Dress Up Mice' Unmounted Rubber Craft Stamp (SP005097)

Just a quick word this morning to let you know of an exciting development!

I've often looked at polymer stamp collections and thought I could do that - and indeed I do make them for my personal use. However, it is just not viable to make them for sale unless I were to charge more than I think people are willing to pay. So I have teamed up with a British company, providing them with designs to put on products.  I am an artist at heart but getting art out there in the big world is not an easy thing.  This way, I provide the designs and they make the products, I get a small commission on each one sold but then, I don't have any costs to consider, other than my time.

Anyhow, I think this Un mounted Rubber Stamp Set is as cute as can be, I hope you do too.

Let me know what you think!

Friday, 29 January 2016

Make an Elevated Pop Up Card

It seems that February for me, is full of Birthdays! I think I have more in this one month than any other. So, it is a challenge to find a card type that I didn't send out last year, something with a surprise to it.
This time, I have gone for different types of card for each person, one of them is getting an Elevated Pop Up card. These cards have a platform inside, that holds all the pop ups, while the card base folds
out completely flat when opened. Neat hmm?

  Now the card base may look simple in construction, as indeed it is - but there are pitfalls when making for the first time. I have made a Video to explain some of them - and two more before that, dealing with the designing of the base file and image types you may want to use for the inside.

This card is finished off with only some simple cut outs, sentiment, a few gold stars and some gold foam (helps to weigh the ends down!) but you can make it as complicated as you wish.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

How to Design an Accordion Flip Card in Sure Cuts a Lot

I have made a video to go with these instructions.  I wouldn't say they are hard to make but if you go about it the wrong way it can be a lot harder than it needs to be. It is more the order of doing things that makes a difference!

This will show you how to design your own file to your own size and shape requirements, and keep a base file to use in future.

  1.  Create the basic shapes all in one go to save time and frustration.
  •  Outer frame     x3
  • Inner frame      x3
  • Float shape       x2
  • Hinge pairs       x2
  • Tab for float    x2      

    2)   Create both a horizontal and vertical line and centre them to the page. Lock them in place.

   3)   Create outer frame by centering to the page, lining up the hinges as you wish and then making a union. Lock that shape.

  4)  Centre the float to an inner frame and check the sizing. Keeping it centred, exclude the path. Position the tab and subtract one path from the other (for some reason mine thinks the tab is behind!)

  5) Centre the result of that to the page.

  6)  With eraser set to circle 1.5cm and keep closed paths box ticked - erase a centre path for the swivel (as in the video). Do this at the centre of inner frame, centre top of shape and also at the resulting point between the two.  This dimension is just the right size to provide a sturdy swivel mechanism. The arrows on the diagram below point at the 3 places to erase on the lower part.

Notice on this one I had not locked my vertical line, so part of that vanished too!

  7) Unlock the horizontal guide and use it to make the tiny cuts in the swivel area (as in the video). Duplicate the cuts for the bottom one, and flip them upside down before locating.

These tiny cut lines are what allows the swivel action.
  8) Use the vertical guide in the same way to make the SCORE lines. Remember to change the colour of these so you don't cut them by accident! Mine are in pink here. The guide line is already going through the centre, where you need it.

There are numerous videos on how to do the actual construction but basically you keep adding as many panels as you want, leaving the last one without the hinges.

Decor panels can be made from the bits left over - remember to think if you need to make offsets of these. You may want to make the panels a fraction narrower to accommodate the hinge but if you do, separate the inner and outer frame to make sure you don't make the inner one smaller too!

Now that you have created your version, you should find you still have the original parts to save as the start of another. It will save you time in the future.


You can even do a double spin, or more if the card is large enough!  To make that less complicated to fathom out, ignore the above tiny cuts and score marks and do those by hand after cutting, it will only take a minute.
Just add another 'frame' shape and knock through the middle of it with the eraser. Like this
Unused tabs are trimmed off, they are only necessary for the hinged section, panels are kept with the tabs on the right only.

And this is what you get..
This is where the tabs are joined. Depending on shape and size of your tab, you can squeeze them together or overlap and fold the middles.

Obviously, you would normally use matching or toning card and decorate it - but this is the plain cut - out of scrap double sided card. Note the tabs on the right have been trimmed off - leave them on for more pages.

Here it is folded flat.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Flip/Swing Cards

I've noticed that there are companies out there making dies for Flip/ Swing cards. There are various tutorials on using them and more again on people using dies they already have for doing the same thing.

For us plotter users though, there did not seem to be much information around as to how to design one for yourself, with whatever shape you like.
Well, we can't have that, can we?

These cards are, if you take a close look, relatively simple but they do have a few specific things to take care of.  The most important thing is that your cut out shape needs to be symmetrical - at least side to side, for it to work well.

The fold on the left needs to go through the centre of your cut out shape, the other one can be moved around. (Note - this diagram is NOT a finished design!)  You will need to play around with the position of the cut out and work out where you want it to be but generally it is near the left edge of the card.

The other main issue is cutting designer papers to accommodate the folds and the cut out shape. In the video I show the process using the Knockout feature of SCAL4, which makes it so much easier to line up!
WARNING!  If you are using a patterned card base and a lining paper, you need to take account of the fact that plotter users generally cut things face up. If you are doing that, your lining may need to be reversed in the software or cut upside down, one or the other. For example, even if using a circle, if you don't have it positioned in the centre vertically, your paper may not fit the right way up!


 So have fun with these, they can be very effective. This is one that I forgot to centre the cut out on.
Looks ok like this..

But not quite right when closed...:)

Monday, 18 January 2016

Product mentions - not sponsored!

Phew! It has been a busy time, family over for Christmas and a friend over shortly after!

So it has been quiet on here even though I have been crafting, I've not had chance to post.

My Christmas list was, as usual, full of craft items - hey if I don't give out ideas, I may get odd things like clothing or something!

I now have a completed set of markers, which is absolutely fabulous and more of my polymer stamp making liquid..

A couple of other things I got, a set of Pearl Ex pigment powders from Jacquard and some Pilot Parallel pens for calligraphy.

The powders are pearlised pigments in a very fine powder form. They can be mixed into any liquid medium or brushed dry onto something damp. They do not contain a binder, so you add that yourself.

I think they are great fun, beautiful colours and create interesting effects. Great for those who want to add some colour and shine.

In the video I also show you a little gizmo I found, just right for stamp cleaning.

Now, the Parallel pens, also in the video, have a bit of an issue, in that the ink feathers badly. I have written to the company to ask for assistance, I shall wait to see how they reply.

UPDATE - The reply from the company said that it is partly due to the amount of ink the pens put down and partly the paper. Although they could not recommend any in particular, they suggested using watercolour paper for its absorbency.

Here are some recent cards.

This heart one is my version of a Jennifer McGuire card, she really is a great talent!

The lady getting this one, loves owls. We found some owl pegs and I have added magnets to them too! The card is a designer one that is normally hard to find a use for but it suits this beautifully.

A simple mat of the tag provides just the right amount of focus.

Simple, effective and quick, made from scraps, cards suitable for men!