Wednesday 11 November 2009

Your Patience Rewarded!

Loved being at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre), Birmingham this last weekend for the HobbyCrafts show. This is one of the Uk largest retail craft shows with thousands of people coming through every day to see all the stands. The show was different this year as it was relocated into hall 20, but very enjoyable with all the shows being in the one place. I thought it was a lot cooler as the space was bigger, all the different shows (Hobbycrafts, Art Materials and Christmas Gifts) were in the same hall, so it was easier to see them all. This meant there was more space, the aisles were wider. It was a new layout, so it took a while to get your bearings and work out where your fave sellers were, and there were not enough toilets, so many desperate ladies found the mens loos a better option! 

Here is part of our stand, you can see the paints and glimmers on the shelves, and the demo desk to the right.

Our stand was in the row which was half Hobbycrafts and half Art Materials, which fitted us as that was exactly the type of stuff on our booth! here is part of the top of my demo area...lots of stuff to hand to play with: glimmers, vivas, kaisers and textures.

People seemed fascinated with the textures I was creating onto chipboard or wood substrates like this one below which has been embellished with a piece of silver metal shaped to a mould and painted with black paint.

 We demoed a variety of ideas. Stamping on metal, embossing metal on moulds, stamping an image and puffing out (embossing) the metal in specific areas of the stamped image (as above). We also tried altering metal before stamping (with paint and glimmer mists), as well as altering the metal after stamping and embossing. 

Here is one of the moulds done with a coloured metal. Position a strip of coloured metal onto the mould and rub over with a paper stump. Start with a fat stump, and move to a thinner one to accentuate finer detail. Next work wround the mould with a rounded teflon tool then finally use a fine teflon tipped pointy tool to outline the detail in a sharp refined manner. Sand the raised parts of the mould with a sanding block. Fill the back of the embossed area with a polyfiller, then fix to humungo tape and cardstock, and add a border with a diagonal texture wheel. I used this to accent one of the door hangers which I had coloured in Pinks and oranges.

We also demoed textured backgrounds made with pastes, stamps, paints, and altered with paints (kasier colour or Viva Decor) and glimmer mists.

Texture Products

So let me show you in more detail the texture technique that caused such a buzz over the weekend. Everyone was loving this idea with either Terra or Ferro as a base. If you are going to paint over the top with either kaiser colour acrylics or with Viva metallics, it doesn't matter which base product you use or the colour of it, particularly if you are going to paint over the top. Terra is slightly thicker, it is an earthen-looking texture (think clay or terracotta) with a creamy-gritty texture. Ferro is a slightly softer texture, it's sparkly and rusty, so all the colours of that collection are very metallic-rusty looking. 

How to use texture

  • You can stamp into both these products, but make sure to wet your stamp first. If it's damp it will release more easily from the texture.
  • Apply your chosen product to the surface with a spatula, its nice to have some thick and some thin areas. Stamp into it. Set aside to dry (10 to 15 mins)
  • If you don't like the image created, smooth over and re-stamp with a different image, or add more product if the texture is too thin. If the texture is too thick, thin it down a little with your spatula.
Using Paint on top of Texture
If you want a matte finish, then Kaiser colour acrylic Paints are the ones. These are a basic crafting acrylic, with a superb colour range. KaiserCraft (an Australian company) release paints regularly to match up with their scrapping papers, so the colours are on trend and the very matt finish is perfect for stamping on top of.

When using kaisercolours I choose a couple of light shades and a couple of darker shades. Eg Turquoise, coastal blue, Olive and Pistachio. Onto that was sprayed iridescent gold glimmer which has warmed it up and added some sparkle.

Other colours I like are in the dips Red and Tropical Waters and lighter on top with dusky pink , Coastal blue and white

 For autumnals, how about Raw Umber, raw sienna, terracotta , soft moss, olive and antique white. You can really use any colours, just make sure that they contrast with each other. 

 For the brights I adore Hot Pink, candy, Orange and Mango. White also looks great on top of this as do glimmer mists.

So now you have seen some colour ideas, how do we do it?
  • First you want to paint the dips (the crevices created by stamping into the texture - see above). You can either put light or the dark colours into the dips. Use about 3-4 different colours randomly applied one at a time around pushed into the texture using the paint applied to cut and dry foam. Dry after painting each colour.

  • Now you can bring a contrasting colour over the top. This colour need to be different to all those in the dips. If you have used a light shade in the dips, then put a darker shade on the riased areas, or if you have dark colours in the dips, then use a light colour on top.

  • If you have a couple of colours on top then you start to add more interest to the piece. Below I have used Mocha and Coastal blue on the top, but in the dips was Raw umber and turquoise (the turquoise looks paler because it was sprayed with patina glimmer mist later whihc lightened it a little). How cool does that clock stamp look!! See it here. The script in Mini 44. A fave of mine!

  • To finish you can add some glimmer mists for a touch of sparkle, or you can add sparkle with Viva decor Precious metal colour paints. Shake the bottle, open and dip your finger into the lid, then rub the paint over a few raised sections of your textured background. This sample below has Moroccan Brown terra as the base, then in the 'dips' are Olive and Raw sienna Kaiser colour. Also we have Antique white to lighten and add contrast to the dips. You can see a little Viva Gold is rubbed over some of the bumpy areas on top too.

So there you have it for now. I'll post some more later this week about other techniques I demoed at the NEC. Have a great week!!


Thursday 5 November 2009

NEC Day 1

Fantastic day. It's the best bit demoing on the stand. All the planning and organisation reaches the point of the whole process.

Lots of freindly faces, new and old, came by. For some people they found us later in the day (because of our slightly unusual location where Art Materials meets the hobbycrafts section of the show, but I think its the perfect spot for us, as most of what I am demoing is paints (kaiser and viva) with the texture pastes, so a lot of the tradition "fine art" people enjoyed taking a look too.

I took lots of photos of today's samples, but can you believe it, both Mark and I left our camera-to-laptop cables behind, so I shall have to figure that problem out tomorrow!

Suffice to say, some stuff with Archie..yes he can be bought now! Also did a few bits with the marhsmellow glimmer mist...nice!!! And i love sanding the silver metal  before painting, glimmering and then stamping on it...

The bargain bit got a good workout today, and the mixed metal pack of coloured metals are something people are enjoying as a starter taster pack.

Plus we have the 2 new colours of metal, a nice olive green, and autumnal orange...very very nice. Might play some more with those tomorrow!!

Really wishing i could show you the large tag in blues and reds with a metal embossed mould strip across the bottom...oh well  guess you'll just have to wait! 

Fingers crossed i can find a camera cable tomorrow!

Hope to see you on our stand AM06 over the next few days!


Best ever Spinach Pie-Quichey thing

I know this is completely off topic, but winter makes me into a homebody be it pies, soups or baking. So I thought I'd share a few fridge-empty-ing tactics that are family faves, and perfect for lazy Sunday lunches in winter. Kids who don't eat spinach, usually will eat it this way! I have to think up lots of cunning plans to get green veges into the kids; pie and soup are my 2 most successful ways to input green veges into those relucatant mouths! 

I actually don't really use recipes, I just chuck stuff in as I go along based on what is in the fridge, but I concentrated hard this time so I could report back to you!! Last night we had this with a green salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, chives and Miss Millie knocked up a blue cheese dressing (recipe below).

Leandra' Spinach Pie

50g butter
1small onion
1 clove garlic
1 bag spinach leaves (can also use silverbeet - common downunder - but cut out the white stalks)
6 eggs
1 tub of ricotta cheese
1 pkt feta cheese (200g??)
2 cups of grated cheese (tasty/ medium..whatever cheddar you have to hand)
150ml cream (double in the UK, single downunder...can use the whole pot if you wish)
salt and pepper to season
1 packet of puff pastry.

Put the butter to melt on medium heat in the frypan, and while melting finely chop the onion and garlic and add to the butter. Stir until soft, but you want this to happen slowly, no browning.

Wash the spinach and drain a little, then add the the onion mix, stir around until JUST wilted, and turn off the element, set aside to cool.

Take the puff pastry out of the packet, roll in the lengthwise direction until the rectangle is longer, then cut into 2 pieces: make one portion 2/3rd (base) and the other 1/3 (for the lid).Roll out the base and place into a butter-greased dish.
Note: I use a really large rectangular ceramic dish that takes up most of the over (like a lasagne dish) , but also a roasting tray would do...this makes a large pie about 2 inches high which is enough for us (family of 6) to have 2 meals, evening then lunch the next day. But you can also freeze the leftovers for another day, or you can bak in a smaller dish, and make a much taller pie, up to 4" tall is also a nice way to go.

In a large bowl crack the 6 eggs, the tub of ricotta, the feta (crumbled), the grated cheese and the cream. Whisk with a fork until the eggs are just broken up, don't over-mix its nice to have feta and ricotta lumps. Add to this the cooled spinach mix, salt and pepper seasoning, and with your fork gently mix through again. Pour this onto the pastry base.

Roll out the pastry for the lid. Fold the base flaps/ edges to lie on top of the mix, brush with egg, then put the lid on top, brush with egg and bake at 180 degrees Celcius (375F). When you can smell the pie, and the pastry in brown on the top it is usually done, but check with a sharp knife pushed into the centre of the pie that it comes out clean.

I guess this is a bit like a quiche with a lid, and you can also add cooked chopped bacon, grated courgette, lightly steamed broccolli and other green veges into the mix before baking. Its one of those things that is also nice cold the next day (or warm!). Our kids sometimes add tomato sauce on top, but if that's what it takes to get them to eat greens, then so be it! I wish I'd take a photo of this last night now!!!

Millie's 1 minute salad dressing
Basic Viniagrette
equal amountds of olive oil and white wine vinegar (3T each??), salt, pepper, 1/2t dijon mustard and shake and serve.
T= tablespoon
t= teaspoon

To make this into a blue cheese dressing, add a dollop of sour cream or plain unsweetened yoghurt, and crumble 1 t of blue cheese into the dressing shaker. Put on the lid and shake. keeps in the fridge for a few days, but the oil may need to come to room temp if you store it in the fridge. We just make what we need fresh each day.

Franich Green Soup
Again this recipe can be adapted to what is in the fridge, but blended, creamy soups are a great way to trick kids into eating their veges.

2 onions
2 cloves garlic
5 stalks celery
1 large leek
2 large courgettes
5 potatoes
1 head broccoli
chicken stock (4 OXO cubes, 2 litres water)

 Turn a huge soup pot onto medium heat, and put 50g butter in to slowly melt. Add all the ingredients as they are prepared.

FInely diced onion and garlic, diced celery, chopped leek, courgettes grated, potaotes peeled and diced, brocoli chopped. Keep stirring, but don;t allow to brown, this should soften.

Pour enough water on the veges until the are just covered. Crumble in the 4 stock cubes, bring to the boil slowly, then turn down to a slow simmer until the veges are soft (40 mins)

Blend soup with a blending gizmo gadget (the one that goes zzzzzzzz). Just before serving add half to 1 pot of cream and season with salt, pepper.

Optional : you can also add spinach to this, or just use broccoli on its own...or just leek and potato..there are loads of options to the basic concept.

I make this with an easy peasy homemade bread recipe that is also never fail and no-kneading required! this makes a massive batch of soup (like 3-4 litres) but eat some and freeze the rest. Be careful when reheating if it has cream in it.

Easy Peasy Bread

4 cups strong white flour
1-2 cups wholemeal flour
1T salt
2 packets of yeast ( or about 1 Tablespoon loose granules)
1.5 C boiling water
1.5C cold milk from fridge
herbs, salt/pepper, olive oil

Put the flours in a large mixing bowl, add 1 tablespoon salt, dried herbs (dill is nice). Stir to combine.

In a 1 litre jug, pour 1.5C of boiling water. To this add 1T of sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Now add the cold milk from the fridge. This makes the temperature of the liquid lukewarm. Now add the yeast to this sprinkled on the top. Set aside for 5 minutes until it is good and frothy. Add a good glug of oil to this miz (about 3-5T)

Here is the trick to mixing the bread. Get a rubber spatula, and while evenly pouring the fluid into the flour, keep lifting the flour with the spatula from the bottom of the bowl to the top in a cutting motion so that the liquid evenly gets the dry ingredients wet. Do this fast, but DO NOT OVERMIX. Once you have all the fluid poured into the dry, the contents of the bowl will probably be still a bit dry. Don't mix any more, tip contents out onto a floured worktop, and with your hands gently pull all the inredients together until they are mixed. The mixture should feel soft. Again, do not overwork this, just keep flopping the mix over until it all comes together. If the mix is too wet, then add more flour from the work top while kneading until it is not sticky. Place into a warm, well oiled bowl, and leave for 20-30 mins to rise.

Once the dough has risen to the top of the large bowl, tip out and re-knead for a minute or 2 until it is back to normal size and nice and soft and oily.

I bake this in a roasting dish lined with a craft sheet that I use for baking, pizzas and bread (not crafting!!). The craft sheet fits in my roasting dish enough to line 2 sides and the base. The 2 ends that are not lined I rub with oil.

Press the dough into the baking tray, encouraging it to go into all the corners. use your knuckles to make dimples all over, then grate/sprinkle rock salt generously all over, and drip some olive oil all over the top. Sprinkle fresh herbs on (rosemary or whatever you have). Set aside to rise again until it has doubled in size. (10-15 mins). Turn the oven onto 180 degrees celcius to pre-heat.

Bake the bread in the centre of the oven for 20-25 mins. Usually its close to ready when you can smell it, but test that a knife comes out clean. Remove from the roasting tin fast so that it doesn't sweat and place on a rack to cool. the bottom should be hollow sounding, and browned like the top. If the bottom is pale, then it's probably still gluggy inside the loaf too and not quite done.

This basic bread recipe can also be used for pizza bases (we make alrge rectanguar ones on a baking tray), small muffin-sized rolls, or if you let it rise on a round, no-hole pizza tray, it is idea for making large round sandwiches for parties or entertaining. I fill mine with ham, avocado, letuce and tomoato and cut into wedges for people to help themselves. Delicious.

So there you have it, the Leandra cookery corner! LOL

NEC - Our location at the show...important

Being a bit blonde, as you all know, I only just figured out yesterday that our booth at the NEC is in the Art materials section of the show. All the sections (art materials, hobbycrafts, Xmas gifts etc) all blend into one this year, so you will probably end up walking all the aisles anyway, and the nice coffee place is down in the art section...and the loos!!!

So if you are looking for PaperArtsy the stand number is AM06

All the show is in a different place/ hall this year, you will be in for the long walk to Hall 20 rom the main entrance where the buses drop you off. Probably faster and closer to walk from the North carparks!!! 

Our booth row is the very first row of the Art Materials section, and our information is listed in the guide unders the "art materials" section too, so if you are looking us up under "Hobbycrafts" you won't see our name.

The stand looks fab, we are just off to do the final touches now, so see you there. I'll tweet a piccie before the show opens, so follow me on @paperartsy to get show updates live!!

Come by and say Hi over the ext 4 days!! Lots of yummy stuff to play wiht on our booth!


Tuesday 3 November 2009

We're going to be at the NEC

We have decided very last minute to book a stand at the NEC. After doing the Artisan show a few weeks back, we kind of got the bug to maybe try a few shows again. I wanted to see if we had enough energy after all the ArtsyCrafts and other events we have done of late, and we are feeling up for it!! I used to go and demo for companies at the NEC in the past, but this time we shall take our own stand, we are quite excited!!!

We shall ahve all the full collections of PaperArtsy stamps (Ink and the Dog, Urban Snapshots, Squiggly Ink) plus our own Rum and Raisin papers. Come by to see the new Clock stamps and how to make those crazy Ding and Dong birds.

Plus we will have Viva Decor products, paints, texture pastes, and the Kaisercolour acrylic paints to create effects like this. 

 We have plenty of wooden and chipboard substrates, plus all the metalworking tools and products we sell such as inidividual wheels, pointy tools, sheets of aluminium metal and moulds. These are all very reasonably priced items, and you must drop by our stand to get some great ideas of how to use these items.

Also you will be able to see the latest samples from our recent ArtsyCrafts event, and the techniques we used to get those effects.

Plus we will have some of the newest glimmer mist colours including the amazing Marshmellow which is opaque and creates some VERY cool  results!!!

So come by our stand, we are in the HobbyCrafts section of the show close to the Art Materials Section.


Sunday 1 November 2009

ArtsyCrafts - 2 fabulous weekends

What can I say? Lin and I are both totally overwhelmed with the wonderful feedback from the delegates who attended both of these events. We think we have now found a format that works really well, operates at a nice pace, and creates a warm friendly and supportive environment suitable for newbies and experienced alike.

 So many people told us in their evaluations that this altered art weekend was the best they had ever attended, which was the biggest compliment to us we could ever hope to receive. So take a look at the pictures below from the event, because maybe this kind of thing is somrthing you might like to attend in the future. We had people in the last 2 weeks travel from as far away as Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Devon, and even some international,"across the ditch" people came from France, Holland, and Norway. So if you live in England, the location near Milton Keynes is very central, and close to Luton airport. So don't try telling us it's too far away, we won't believe you!!! LOL

We provice everything for the weekend that you need. In fact if all you arrived with was a pair of Tim Holtz scissors, you would be set to go! Here is the table set for the first class, with step out colour notes, the class kits, and lots of goodies on the table to work with. We issue each person for the whole weekend with a metal working kit, so you have a basic tool set with paper stumps, a mat set, sanding block, glues etc for you to use whenever you wish.

Each table also had one of these samples to refer to so you could see how the colours might work together.

We were very pleased that just about everyone got all their projects finished at the event, so the timings were pretty much on the button for all the classes. People seemed to enjoy all the projects and techniques we taught, and everyone met new people and made fantastic new friendships.

Here are some of the projects we made in various colour groups. Below is French Maison (blue and beige),  Autumn Days (warm tones of rust, olive and brown), and English Rose (soft pink and cream). We also had Peacock (rich greens, blues and chocolate with gold and copper highlights), Cappucino (coffee coloured shades of brown), and Country Charm (pale soft shade of duck egg blue and pistachio green with silver highlights.

 Within the groups there was the opportunity to ramp up the colours or tone them down based on your personal preference. So it was fascinating how a table could have huge variations by only using some of the colours, eg just using green instead of blue and green, or by creating the project rich instead of pale with cream or white base.

The rooms were quite spacious, with an area for the shop at one end of the room. With 5 people per table, and supplies in the centre, there is plenty of room to flap your wings, and yet you can still reach what you need.

As you have probably gatheredhe theme was "time" and the main project was a large clock which we created over 3 sessions. We also made a mini box decorated inside and out, a small arch shaped concertina book and a UTEE metal clock embossed embellishment with grunge wings, perfect to decorate a diary or journal cover.

The techniques and products we focussed on were viva Decor Terra texture paste, Kaisercolour paints, and Viva Decor precious metal colour paints. Our aim during the weekend is to use most of these products a few times in different ways so that people grow in their confidence with those products, and understand the versatility of how to work with them in a variety of situations. Each event we also try to incorporate an item with UTEE, and so we had a session with the melt pots too. Melt pots are always a new thing for some of the delegates, but it's nice to show how versatile they are.  And of course the glue of all these sessions are Lin and my specialty areas; Metal and Stamps. We incorporate new techniques and ideas with Metal and stamps in all the sessions so that people learn many ways to use these products together.

If one thing came through in the evaluations forms is that it is very evident to the delegates at ArtsyCrafts events how much preparation Lin and I put in. It is very important to us that people go home with full colour step-by-step notes for each session. We impart so much information, that it's nice to have a professional resource to refer back to when you are at home and wondering "how the heck did i do that?" 6 months later!

"A bit of me time" Mini Box.
This was a cute little box which we painted, decorated with stamped/ coloured papers, and then adorned the inside with metal embellishments.The outside has a fob watch with a cracked face on the cover. The sides of the box had cuttlebugged metal on them.

"Storytime" Arch concertina book
The cover chipboard and pages were all painted with Kaisercolour paints, stamped, and we did some masking, adding more paint for depth, and decorating insdie the arch with metal birds on pearl metal.

"Time Flies" UTEE Embellishment
The clock with wings was our UTEE class. Lin worked out that using UTEE on top of embossed metal is a great way to support the metal instead of using a polyfiller type product from behind. So we stamped an image onto pearl metal, embossed (puffed out) the metal, then glimmered it and finally added a layer of clear UTEE. this was cut out with a cookie cutter. To this we attached wings made from painted and stamped grungepaper.

"Tick Tock" 
So to our big project, the clock. We taught this over 3 sessions. The face of the clock was textured with Terra which we stamped into. Once dry we painted it with acrylic paints, and sprayed with glimmer mist, and added some Viva Precious metal colour accents to the high points.

We also painted some metal to match the colour of the clock face so that we could stamp on this surface for embellishments on the canvas, however, some people opted to do these directly onto the copper painted metal.

The base that the clock rests on is a large rectangular canvas. This was painted, and stamped. with pale colours. Then overstamped with Viva preciuos metal colour.

Then we added quotes in black, and together with the metal panels and painted embellishments, plus the clock numbers it all starts to come together.

The 4 metal panels to go on the canvas had been embossed on the Ten Seconds Studio moulds.

 The panels were painted and perhaps glimmered to antique them.

We also created some other clock metal embellishments (the painted/stamped pieces mentioned before), and of course the numbers for the clock were also stamped onto metal.

It was wonderful to look at all the artwork that was displayed around the room as each person developed their own version of each project. We were amazed how the artwork different even within a table.

Here is a group photo of weekend number 2, we never got a piccie from the First weekend, but we'll make sure to do this at future events! 

Colours choices at ArtsyCrafts events

When people register with us to attend the event, they indicate their colour preferences from a list of up to 10 options. We count up everyone's first choices, and this determines the colours available at the event. For this event, 'French Maison' was so popular we had 3 tables of that colur scheme (soft blue and beige) and we were thrilled that practically everyone at the event got their first available colour choice to make the main project (clock).

When making other projects over the weekend we allow a free choice system so that delegates can have a go at a different colour, which means there are about 2-3 opportunities to try something different. This system also means that you don't know who you will sit with until you arrive, and at the end of the weekend you have met so many new people, that even those who came with friends were happy to have made many new ones too.

Lastly can I say a huge thankyou to all who came and made the event such a success and so enjoyable. Both groups each weekend were so lovely to teach. Even those who were out of their comfort zone jumped in boots and all to give every project 100% effort and it really showed in the results. We were in awe of the wonderful and inidividual ways you all expressed yourselves. And of course Lin and I couldn't do it without our fabulous helpers. Here we all are in the picture, from the left Jo, Lynne H, Lin, Karen and Leandra.

This was the 5th ArstyCrafts event we have offered, and with so many new people and committed fans who have attended every single event, we anticipate the march 2010  weekends will sell out fast. The popularity and high quality of these events have created a demand point where we could probably offer 3 weekends, but we cannot fit this into our schedules. So with this in mind, we expect it's likely to be a bit of a rush to book places. To be fair to everyone, we will be announcing the details in full for a few weeks before the booking date commences. If you are on either the LB Crafts or PaperArtsy mailing lists, you will get an email, otherwise sign up to this blog or Lin's blog (LB Crafts) where the same info will also be made public. Start saving now, we have a fabulous theme lined up and Lin and I have already had a meeting where we have sketched out some potential class ideas! I think you will love it...we are buzzing about it !!

If you attended one of these events, please can I ask you to leave a comment on this blog post and a link back to your blog post about the weekend so that people can come and take a look now and in the future your opinions of ArtsyCrafts weekends and the items you made.

Have a great weekend, now that the rough winter weather has arrived, it's perfect to start thinking about Xmas cards and gifts...maybe you could make small clocks for gifts???