Wednesday 20 June 2012


I have had an utterly fabulous and totally chillaxed week so far! In fact make that almost 2 weeks.Last week we got caught up getting the back log of bits and bobs done by Friday after ArtsyCrafts the weekend before. So that meant with nothing pressing on the usually looooong 'to do' list....the weekend was mine!!

Saturday was spent mostly watching 3 international games of rugby-and they were amazing! 2 at home (watching and ironing), and the latter, late afternoon I watched in the local Irish pub with Mr PA. We then dropped into a Turkish restaurant in Brentwood, and had a nice bite to eat before heading home. Fab day!

Sunday, of course was Father's Day, so we did the cooked breakfast thing, and then somehow, I managed to get my 3 teen girls to sort out the pantry zones. Yes, no bribery, no payment, just an announcement from me that their time was required to sort my cupboards. I duly delegated, and then went off to clean the house. Courtney was armed with one of those labelling gizmos and bam! They were off, even Mr PA and Hugo emptied, defrosted and re-filled the freezer!!! I probably could have gone and had alie down and no-one would have noticed!!! Noooooo....of course I didn't...... but the net result is now everything has a place and a name! I think Morelos than I intended went in the bin bags than stayed on the shelves, but there were so many badly out of date items that needed hiffing, and I wasn't doing it so who cares!!!!! We topped that effort off with a 3 bird roast for the pa-bear's day dinner. Brilliant weekend, and boy it feels so good to be organised. I have been wanting to sort that stuff out for about 6 years!!!

Monday I went into London with Miss almost-18. She has been invited to go to Marbella with a friend's family for a week or 2 this summer, and so she has been working to save up for some time. Of course we only realised last week her passport expired on Friday, and lucky for her, she got a cancellation appointment at the passport renewal office for Monday morning. So off we went bright and early to be there by 7.45!!! Yes you read that right. So after dropping off the paperwork, we went to Bill's near Covent garden for a lovely breakfast, then we wandered around the new Gilly Hicks/Hollister, where she managed to find (of course) a pricey bikini or 2 for Marbs. {All she needs is the oompa loompa fake tan from Amy Childs salon up the road, some Scottie dog eyelashes and blinded up nails, and she will look the part no doubt} After all, she pretty much is a proper Essex girl these days! (rolls eyes)

So Tuesday was spent marvelling at how organised I am.....even got all the final AC stuff sorted with Lin..... Orders, a usual work day.....and i cooked dinner on time for the family. wow! forward to today. Wednesday. Rubbish day. I was up nice and early, getting the last of the rubbish out, hanging washing out, and even ironing!!! The last time I was this organised I was probably in one of those pregnant nesting phases!!! {NO I AM NOT-Don't even go there!!!} I think the reality is that for the first time in several years I am not tired and struggling to get through a list a mile long!! Usually once one ArtsyCrafts is over we are immediately planning the next one, and we are not having a next one!! (see last blog post) Yay! Space! So I can actually think and plan other stuff! Great feeling!

So, to the point of this post.....WOYWW...... I decided that it was time to put the rest of the ArtsyCrafts bits and bobs away that had been dumped in my studio/storage-shed 10 days ago, and have a bit of a tidy up and stock take at the same time. And *that* she'd is where my desk is!!!

So you want to see the desk...well it started out the day looking like this

And now it looks like this

But the best part is I have finally managed to unpack the huge bag of stash I bought when Lin and I shopped at Version Scrap, Paris back in February!! So as you can see, the desk is now ready and waiting for me to play with lots of new stuff. I have a carillon ideas whiz zing about in my I think I need to jot them all down before I forget them and then go and have a play day

But tonight, to continue with my perfect week, I have cracked open a nice New Zealand Chardonnay, the BBQ is on, the sun is out, and we are having a kiwi BBQ this means an evening relaxing with him cooking, and me watching...and with not a lot on my to do list...for once...I cannot tell you how good this feels!!!!!

Sooooo...... I know I'm a tail end Charlie WOYWWer....... and an erratic one, but if you want to play along, go to julias's place, and let others know what your desk looks an as round-a-bout manner as you wish!



Tuesday 12 June 2012

ArtsyCrafts - end of an era

Another amazing group of fabulous crafters came to join Lin and I this last weekend at the DeVere Hotel, Daresbury Park, near Warrington for 3 days of crafting exploration.

Gotta say, I think it was one of our best events for variety. Variety of people from several countries, variety of textures; fabric, clay, metal, wood, crunchy, smoothly, crackly and metal, and a variety of old-to-AC (had to be careful how I put that) and many new-to-AC faces too. It was perfect! We always try hard to bring something new to the table for each event, and I think we ticked all the boxes on that count!!

The event was another sold out occasion, which is what we always try to aim for, but we feel a bit unsure with the economy how it is, and if the classes will appeal when we release the classes for sale. This time we allowed people to book 1, 2 or all 3 days, so we hope that helped people pick the classes they preferred and to suit their budget. It seemed to work well.

People always seem amazed at the level of preparation we put into these events, and it is a labour of love when it comes to kitting and typing up the class notes, but Lin and I do enjoy our AC get togethers. The joint brainstorming magically produces a unique project with techniques we have explored or encountered along the way....this time we enjoyed the wonders of mica paste, illegal flowers, soldering through fabric, mesh-window clipping, satin glaze image transfers, plaster-resin buttons, and gilded clay...yes I guess you had to be there!

The crafters who came were again, such a lovely group, and even the brand newbies seemed to grab the bull by the horns and totally go for it. I love to watch how people take an idea we present and follow their gut instinct to tweak to their personal preference, whether it's colour, arrangement or whatever. It's so liberating to guide the people you teach rather than dictate how it should be done. I am all for people finding their own unique style and going with what they prefer! What they feel works or looks right. Lin and I might make suggestions, but people may or may not take our advice, or come up with something different. Building your confidence this way is how you stretch yourself to try new things and move forward. There is no right or wrong, it's all just fun and crafty exploration. There are no restrictive expectations, standards or boundaries.

From the feedback we got from the punters this weekend, they are so proud of what they achieved, and Lin and I were just as thrilled as they were. It's such a buzz to be a part of that , words cannot explain.

So, the clanger news is that Lin and I have come to the decision a few weeks ago that this will be our last ArtsyCrafts. It's really hard decide to discontinue an in-demand event that has given us so many warm fuzzies as a weekend like the one we just had. But, after 5 years with anything from 4-7 events per year, we are ready to call it a day. Lin, as you know retired last year. She intends to teach occasionally locally, but ArtsyCrafts is a big commitment, and she's ready to stop now that the retired lifestyle is calling to her loudly. I have several hats to wear running PaperArtsy, and certain hats really need a lot more of my attention. Clearing ArtsyCrafts off our schedules will free up a significant portion of our time to do the things we really should be doing. Yes, we will miss you all deeply, but we won't miss Quite so much the weeks and weeks of preparation, admin, spreadsheets and planning we put into each event.

So while you digest that bombshell, let me show you some more of the pictures i took over the weekend.

Friday was In the big room to fit all the sewing machines and allowed 3 people per large round tale - plenty of space16. What a sight that was. Lucky for us as the room is so huge, the noise wasn't bad at all. This class we made a fabric book, although some people opted to arrange it as a wall hanging. It took a couple of sessions to get into the groove, as this was unfamiliar territory for many, but we must have done ok, as Debbie and Lis, who had no experience whatsoever finished! And they loved it!

Saturday we hinged 2 Artemio frames together to make a sort of book filled with sewing notions, but not so much sewing on this, painting and other ideas went into this one.

Sunday was our 'Rusty Relic' class. Since finding out about rusting powder earlier in the year, Lin and I knew we wanted this to be used somehow. And we wanted clay, metal mesh and other unusual ideas incorporated. We though this was an unusual class, but many people decided it was their favourite as it was so different to the rest of the weekend. I think all the projects hit the mark. Thumbs up was the impression I got from our punters.

So there you have it, the end of an ArtsyCrafts era. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Lin, we seem to know each other inside out now, and she is fantastic! Of course we couldn't have done any of the ArtsCrafts weekends without 'The Mark's' (our husbands), and the other ladies who have helped over the years behind the scenes, particularly Karen, who has been the best kit-up queen, ever!

And of course, a big thank you to all of you who have managed to come to one or more of the many ArtsyCrafts events of the last 5 years. You were all amazing!

Take care and have a great week


Friday 1 June 2012

It's {Jubilee} Weekend, and we have NEW stash!

This weekend, Britain and other commonwealth countries commence our Jubilee celebrations with Queen Elizabeth II, and the Royal Family. She has reigned as our Sovereign for an astonishing 60 years.

It’s a very exciting weekend ahead for us here in the UK over the next few days. Apparently a monarch only manages to reign for 60 years, approximately once every 300 years. So clearly we are not going to be in a position to enjoy this kind of celebration again in our lifetime!

As you will no doubt see from news feed images around the world this weekend (Saturday through Tuesday for us), it’s going to be one huge party! Houses, shops, village greens, High Streets and public spaces will be adorned in the iconic red, white and blue St George’s flags, as communities  heartily celebrate together with Jubilee Parties, BBQ’s, balls, galas, street parties, concerts, beer festivals, parades, stunning inimitable Royal Pageantry. Of course there are thousands of events planned across the commonwealth. This is a memorable and patriotic time for us all. England is bright with excitement and anticipation and very proud of our Queen.
I was in London on Wednesday this week.Had a lovely lunch catching up with a school friend from waaaaay back in the early 80's who i have not seen since I was 15 when we finished our 5th form year. Was fabulous to catch up with her.  Here is a shot of the market place roof at the tourist hot-spot, Covent Garden. London is looking magnificent in the summer sunshine all dressed up! Bunting everywhere!

You might be interested in these stamps if you are partial to a spot of British themed creativity!

The British theme has been very strong as a design trend internationally for several years now. We released a few plates in February which have been great selling stamps, everyone loves a London bus right! (see right)

Hot Pick 1209

London hosts the Olympic Games this summer, and Royal milestones like ‘The Wedding’ and ‘The Diamond Jubilee’ have only made this trend one that’s with us to stay. 

Hot Pick 1210

So now we have 2 new stamps with  some iconic landmarks, flag bunting, a 2-part Union flag so you can stamp the red bits and stamp the blue bits separately to make a distressed Union Jack, as well as some Brit-themed flowers to match the existing dies we have. We are confident this isn’t a passing trend, London is one of the world’s top destinations, so these stamps will always have great appeal - and always a good look for masculine cards too.

These stamps are online to order now, and due to the long Jubilee weekend,the first available day for us to start shipping is Wednesday 6th June, after which we are closed until Monday 11th June for ArtsyCrafts. This means we only have 1 day at HQ next week, as we leave Thursday to build up for ArtsyCrafts, so we will try our best to get as many orders out as possible, but be prepared to not receive orders until 12 June. We will deal with orders on a first come basis.

We also recently added these items to the site:

Substrates: Crunchy

Crunchy with paint, die cut, crumpled
Our very popular Crunchy waxed craft paper (RRP £2.95) for 20 A5 sheets, has received lots of publicity in Craft Stamper, and Scrap365 recently, and customers are snapping it up fast.

Ideas using it:

  1. It’s great fun to crumple then die cut crunchy. 
  2. It also can be sewn easily. 
  3. Try mica powders on it (they cling to the wax) then zap to heat set and create a stunning metallic surface that looks awesome for hearts and flowers. 
  4. It also looks super with a wash of Fresco paint, and stamped, before or after crumpling, and layered with other substrates (Metal Card, Crackly etc). 
The more you play, the more ideas you discover with this product!

Substrates: Crackly
New to the noisy family of PaperArtsy substrates is Crackly. This is similar to tissue paper, but crispier, and a tad shinier - intrigued?? It certainly crackles!

Ideas using it:

Crackly stamped with moth, adhered to painted mini canvas
  1. It looks fantastic washed with all manner of colouring products; paint, sprayed with dyes, smooched with inks, portfolio oil pastels etc
  2. Give it some texture; crumple, die cut, layer - and i mean lots of layers!! (TIP: it's easier to crumple your sheets first and then die cut, its also easier to add colour to full sheets than smaller die cut items)
  3. Use it to add an image to an uneven surface, like canvas or wood (moth picture). Stamp your image in archival jet black ink, heat set and fix to your receiving canvas surface with Fresco Satin glaze. I painted the red star from behind, so the image stays black on the front. This is a basic example onto a mini canvas, but I'm sure you get the point!
Substrates: Smoothy
We released this quietly not too long ago. It is naked Thorndon Hall paper! People have loved the quality of Thorndon Hall, and it stamps up so beautifully, so we decided to get in some paper to sell as the perfect stamping surface. As you know, its soooooooo smoooooooothe, and perfectly matte, so it absorbs the ink correctly to give a stunning crisp image, but its not slick, so you can literally use any type of colouring product on it with ease: pan pastels, water based dye inks like distress, adirondak, memento, as well as pigment inks (perfect for direct to paper), markers like pro-markers, distress pens etc, Portfolio Oil pastels, and it will even stand up to paint, dye sprays, get it right!! Anything!
10 sheets(A4) in  a pack for £2.85 RRP 

Get it while it lasts: Thorndon Hall 12x12

We have nearly sold out of these, so we have reduced the price to just £9.60 RRP for a pack of 24 sheets of double sided 12x12

Hot Pick 1211
You may remember that we commented earlier this year we had noticed all thing related to fabric were moving away from an 'emerging trend' and into a 'here to stay' category.

We have watched fabric elements arrive in the paper craft sector over recent years; felt flowers, organza, chiffon, silk and vintage trimmings (flowers, buttons ribbons and lace in particular) have appeared in many scrapbook collections, as well as vintage buttons, pearls, and the use of stitching to attach or frame layers on cards scrapping layouts, canvas etc.  

Fabric offers a textural element and versatility to the multi-skilled crafter who flicks between different crafting genres. 
Hot Pick 1212

You don't have to be a sewer to enjoy this trend. The style of sewing required is what I call 8 year-old sewing. The more wonky, random and childish the stitching looks, the better. 

Vintage and retro style imagery is popular on china, tea towels, kitchen and general household accessories as is clearly seen in retail chains like Cath Kidston, Anthropolgie and many independent gift and kitchen shops. We are also seeing this vintage/retro imagery reflected in the fashion and graphic design industries.

Hot Pick 1213

In the Craft Sector we can now see scrapbook and manufacturing companies adding to their 12x12 and A4 paper collections with the same design patterns available as fabric by the bolt, fat quarter or 6” ‘pinked’ squares with co-ordinating embellishments that work for both paper and fabric crafting activities. 

This is a huge cross-over opportunity for the Craft, Fabric and Wools shops as well as those who carry household gifts. Check out the popular Mollie Makes Magazine, which for the last year has reflected all these trends and multi use of many crafting products.

Hot Pick 1214

For 36 months Lin and I have wanted to teach a fabric-infused ArtsyCrafts retreat, and for 36 months Mark and I have been gradually refining a series of haberdashery-relevant stamps, waiting for the right time to release them. 

Finally, our ArtsyCrafts fabric-themed mixed media weekend retreat ‘Fabric Fest’ is happening next weekend, June 8-10, so now is the time for the big reveal of these gorgeous complementary stamps. Good things come to those who wait!

Hot Pick 1215

I think these images are timeless, and I love how the plates have come together so beautifully. I can’t wait to see what you think of these images, please, do email us with your comments if you can find a minute.

Due to the large number of Jubilee bank holidays next week and us being away at ArtsyCrafts next weekend (June 7-10), we shall start shipping all new stamps from June 11th onwards, so you can order online now, but be prepared for a bit of a wait.

If you are quick to order this weekend, we are hopeful that we *might* get first orders out on Wednesday June 6th next week.

Wishing you all a wonderful celebration weekend! Stay safe and enjoy your Pimms!              

Leandra and the PA HQ team