Wednesday 25 July 2012


So how gorgeous is the weather??? Been waiting for this for so long, and it is utterly fabulous. We are on for 32 Celsius tomorrow !! Woop woop. Finally! So the stuff on my desk this week is me playing about with distress ink-putting it on and taking it you do...

I was so torn yesterday afternoon. I was really keen to just lie in the sun after dropping off the sack of post to the post office.....but I was itching to play with some rubber stamps I gave myself 30 mins to see what I could do.

I haven't used my distress inks in ages, so I put several colours with CND foam onto an A4 piece of card. Then I spied a stencil nearby. I have no idea why I haven't tried this idea before...I'm sure you all have done this loads of times!!!! I put the stencil over the distress ink background, dabbed some cut n dry foam into a spritz of water, and tapped the water gently through the stencil. Of course, as you well know, distress ink kind of gets bleached off by the water, through the stencil, looks like ink has been removed!!! LOVE THAT!! Why have I not done this before?

Then I dipped a large script into the water too, and stamped that to 'bleach' more ink away. You can see it on the yellow section above left.

I stamped the large...and it is large....collage stamp HP1216 (above) in a deep green permanent's a lovely ink...I bought it in Paris, never seen it here, but it's manufactured by Tsukineko for a French-based, Japanese owned stamp company...and heat set. The ink I think is probably a similar formula to versafine, an oil-based permanent.

Next i either removed ink with a wet paintbrush from the image, or I applied more distress with a wet paint brush to add deeper colour. You get the idea. Sometimes I removed, then put a different colour on top...

Anyway, it's a work in progress, I still have to layer it up, embellish it and so forth, but that is what is deffo on my desk ATM!

Oh yes, and this is on my desk too. A couple of weeks back I used a crackle glaze that looked from the outside to be more or less the same as our Freso Finish crackle glaze, however, apparently it has a 4 hour window of opportunity to apply your top coat. So that got me wondering if ours had a use-by time for the top coat. So I base-coated a small paper mâché board gold. Dried it. Put on the layer of crackle glaze, and set it to one side. That was probably 2-3 weeks ago. So today I applied black on top and voila. It cracked instantly, just like it usually does! Yay. I couldn't see any reason why it wouldn't, so I was pretty glad and relieved to prove my theory correct.

If you get a chance to show us your desk, pop along to Julia's blog here, and make sure you link your post on her's pretty easy, just follow the instructions

Hope you have a lovely week/weekend, and don't forget to watch the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics on Friday night!!


Monday 16 July 2012

1792 ephemera and a {fishy} story....spooky

They are online now. 3 new spooky stamps, and 3 new hot picks.

First is another sewing related stamp: Hot pick 1216

The writing on the invoice on the top half of this plate is stunning. it is actually for feathers ordered from a London haberdashery/milliner by the well known botanist, Joseph Banks, who accompanied Captain James Cook on his voyages to the unknown southern Hempishere new worlds! This document of 1792 is from preparations for their 3rd voyage. It seems the local pub was used by the 'store owner' to conduct his business from. And how stunning is the large collage at the bottom of the plate!! Gorgeous.

Next up, Hot pick 1217

The scallop flower die, and the Tall Heart die, you probably already have acquired. We like to make new stamps for existing dies, and whether you have the dies or not, these are still stunning stamps. Mr PaperArtsy has a beautiful way of creating these collaged images. The detail is stunning and the quality of the stamps outstanding. The heart can be used repeatedly to make a huge flower, and the scallop flower makes a great centrepiece for that giant embellishment! Try this with our new crackly tissue or how about painting some crunchy waxed craft paper and using that!

The invoice at the top is another for Joseph Banks, for the same voyage with Captain Cook...this time he was collecting beads and jewellery times from a 'necklacemaker' based near London Bridge. I recently was wandering around Borough Market (huge food market) at London Bridge recently, and the old cobbled streets and small alleyways are still so Victorian even today!

On the invoice it quotes the location of the trader as 'Monument Yard, Fish Street Hill' Of course, it was near this part of London, where the great London fire started in a bakers at Pudding Hill, and then swepth down Fish Hill towards the Thames river where it consumed the then wooden London Bridge. The monument of course is a monument erected in remembrance of the Great Fire of London.

So when you use that stamp as a background, the history will have much significance to you, than just another script or background!

Hot pick 1218

Having studied at an American university in his youth, Mr PaperArtsy is partial to a bit of Americana. This one is for the boys! I love the pick up truck, and the elements in here like the route 66 highway crest will be fabulous embellishments for all sorts of projects.

Now to the spooky stuff. The longer I craft, the more I am drawn to the quirky, dark, spooky stuff..and not just for Halloween! I know in the USA Halloween has always been a huge thing, but not so much in other parts of the world, however, it does seem a strengthening trend for retailers all over the world to promote Halloween as another date to boost sales, and so I think we are all accepting it now as normal to see aisles of dedicated spooky goods when October approaches. Last year we did this plate very late in October.....

Halloween 01

And now we have Some buddies to join it..

Halloween 02

Halloween 03

Halloween 04

So I am hoping you will enjoy these stamps, they've in the online shop now, and we will start shipping this week as they come off the production line.

Have a great week


Saturday 14 July 2012

Weekend recipe - spinach artichoke dip

I love the Big Oven app. You can find all sorts of recipes on there, and I was noseying around and stumbled across a spinach and artichoke hot dip recipe. I remember eating it with Lin while we went over to Ranger U together. You never see it on menus here in the UK anywhere, and even Mr PA (who did his degree in the USA) hasn't eaten it I was on a mission to make some this afternoon.

It's really easy. Grab all the ingredients, mix together, put in the oven for 20-30 mins, and eat with bread.

I combined a bunch of recipes together (no idea why)...but I don't think it's going to matter much so don't stress

  • 1 tub cream cheese
  • Crushed garlic clove or 2
  • Few tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Bag of spinach (steamed, drained, squeezed, chopped)... Or frozen
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts chopped up
  • Splash of tobasco ( I used kaitai fire...the stuff they have on the side shelf in GBK's a new Zealand hot sauce with more depth of flavour than tobasco ) but you could use sambal olek, chilli flakes, chilli power...just a pinch/splash
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Handful grated mozzarella
  • Salt/pepper to taste...go easy on the salt cos it may not need any at all.
Mix all the ingredients together and put into an oven proof small bowl. Heat at 180 Celsius/ 350 Fahrenheit for 20 mins or until started to turn golden on the topServe with sliced French bread or some kind of rustic stuff. You can toast it brushed with olive oil if you want. Or pita bread, tortilla chips, crackers...whatever you have to hand.


Enjoy...and I'm sure my American followers have got much better versions, so blog yours and share !!

Thursday 12 July 2012

It's {spooky} but true...and very new

Love sharing new stuff with you. I'll keep it short, spooky and stitched up! First up a huge collage image with a huge script stamp above. This will be so useful. As it's so big, I kind of have to show the whole less of a sneak, and more of a full monty!

Also, another very useful background stamp, with 2 stamps that match existing, very popular dies, the tall heart, and the scallop flower die.

This one is a masculine style set, always handy for the men in your lives, or if you are working on a less girlie project...

But, we have 3 new Halloween plates, here are sneaks from them all...I am itching to play. I kind of think the thing about this style is they are often good year round, many of the elements appeal to me for year round use. Although the Halloween thing certainly seems to be gaining momentum here in the UK.

So I'll have these all online this weekend....woohoo!

Have a great weekend!



Monday 9 July 2012

Gran's Peanut Brownies

Fantastic weekend here loaded with sport for us to enjoy! On Friday the kids finished school early as the Olympic Torch was visiting Brentwood here in Essex. It stopped off in the smallest village on its entire UK tour, Herongate, which is just behind the farm we live on. So onto the bikes we hopped, and off to Herongate we went. Once we got there, the village cricket green was loaded with all kinds of local community marquees with all kinds of things going on.

We selected a visit to the beer tent as the first priority - it was a very long queue, we were a bit thirsty, and only about 30 mins till the torch was scheduled to arrive.

Standing on the side of the road, on a bend as it happened (fluke) we had a pretty good view of the proceedings. Sponsor vehicles, loads of police on motorbikes high fived the kids as they came through quickly building up hype with the crowd, and then the lady carrying the torch down our stretch came by.

It was quite moving as she looks so utterly thrilled to be part of such a momentous occasion. The public wet so thrilled too, and I'm sure everyone who came didn't regret it one bit.

Sunday was a hard choice between tennis, formula 1, much going on this weekend! We opted for the tennis, what a great match between Federer and Murray. The crowd there was amazing, and we enjoyed every minute watching on the TV. Federer seemed out of sorts the first half, and Andy was super, but after the rain break the tables turned, and Federer's genius shone through. A well deserved win, Andy seemed to flag a little, or lose his mental emotional battle...i think he still has some fine tuning to do before he can win a Wimbledon final, but he's got some years ahead of him to keep trying! I'm sure he will win it one day!

I managed to fit in some baking on Sunday. And thought I'd share the recipe with you, as you don't see these biscuits over here in the UK often. In NZ we call them peanut brownies. They are a basic biscuit batter with sme cocoa and peanuts. Easy, tasty, and kids love them in the lunchbox!

Mark's mum makes these in a melt in the mouth manner that I never seem to be able to duplicate, she really is an amazing biscuit maker - Gran's house is always full of baked goodies!

you need( for a big batch)

8oz butter, 12oz sugar, 2 eggs, 16oz flour, 2t baking powder, 4dsp cocoa, 1t salt, 1C peanuts

I find the raw peanuts hard to find here in the UK, they are generally only seen as bird food!! But in health food shops they are usually available, they have the shells on more often, but of you can get them shell off it's faster. Top remove the shells, roast the nuts lightly, when cool, roll between your hands, and the shells will fall off - or do this outside and you can blow the shells off! - great job for the kids!

Cream your butter and sugar, gradually add the egg, the the dry ingredients, and lastly the peanuts.

Place teaspoon fills on a cold baking tray, and bake at 180 Celsius for 15-20 mins.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we do here!

have a great week!


Thursday 5 July 2012

Shabby-Punked Bird & Outhouse

Play day! Bliss!. productive nonetheless!

A week ago we got in these new Outhouses.....well they are technically birdhouses to be decorated...but it looks like an outhouse to me!!

And the paper mâché bird form is a perfect little buddie for the birdhouse..... He's sitting on a spool and has acquired a few steampunk-style embellishments. He also was painted in patina blue, then a coat of crackle glaze, and topped with a buttery shade of Nougat (Nougat with a drop of Irish Cream and Haystack).

I started with a stencil/mask pattern that I thought would work well on the roof. Recently I was given a pumice paste and a heavy modelling paste to test, so I used the modelling in the central areas, the pumice at the top, sides and lower edges.... I must say..scraping the pumice paste through the stencil was a bit like nails on the blackboard.

Next I base coated it with Nougat, then French Roast Fresco Acrylic Paint. It's a very cool toned, brown-black shade, but also great mixed into other dark browns? The Nougat wasn't completely dry, so in some areas it blended through, but that adds interest to the next layer, so I wasn't too worried about getting uniform coverage.

Next I mixed up a Brown Shed and Chocolate Pudding wash, with a bit of Nougat. It makes a kind of pinky brown for step one of the wash. (sorry no picture). Next I wanted a warm wash...Pumpkin Soup is the perfect shade, but I needed it to be a bit more opaque to be visible on my dark roof, so I added a dash of Nougat, and a dash of Chocolate Pudding to the mix. Plenty of water is the trick here. I actually like to spray water on to get the paint to dribble down.

Then I tapped brilliance black ink pad over the raised portions, and softened with a blending tool.

So for the outhouse I painted a base coat, then dry brushed lots of different colours on top. For the base, I mixed up a gorgeous patina green (Guacamole, Nougat, Sky, with a drop of Inky Pool and Toad Hall).... And got to work applying that in all the nooks and crannies. One coat is all you need with this paint.

The paint dries almost instantly, so I was quickly able to dry brush with the same warm buttery-nougat I put on top of the bird. If you start with a light colour, then the other colours you put on top will show on top of the pale shade more clearly.

A tip on dry brushing. You need a dry brush (slaps forehead), and the smallest amount of paint, most of which I remove off the brush onto a paper towel, and then you start applying to the surface. You should not be putting on wet paint.... Just scuffing on almost-dry dregs of paint.

So you switch from colour to colour. Dry brushing layer after layer. I used French Roast, Pumpkin Soup, more buttery-nougat mix and so on. On the front door, I decided it looked nice lighter, but I did use Claret as the first layer, then a touch of Beach Hut, and back through all the darker colours. I also tended to put it on, and if it got too dark, I dabbed it back off with a baby wipe to knock it back to creamy tones. If you do this, make sure the wood is dry before you resume dry-brushing. And I often returned back to cream tones.

You can see the back of the outhouse here, and the final tones of the roof. You don't have to be any kind of expert to create this effect with paint, it's just lots of light soft layers.

I hope you get a chance to have a go this weekend!


Wednesday 4 July 2012

Brilliant 2012 Extravaganza

How the week is flying by! I've been trying to blog all week about my lovely weekend demoing at the Craft Barn extravaganza. What follows are a few of the samples I made over the weekend featuring a sampling of our newest stamps.
This London Bus sample (HP1208) has painted 'crunchy' craft glassine waxed paper, alternating with mica-powdered die cut flowers. The painted background are 2 colours, the top one 'crackled' over the lower, and washed with watery contrasting paint. Embellished with plaquette number, and a bedtime key.
This again is a crackled , painted background, also over stamped with that lovely fine script from mini 61, and the new cotton reel mini 65. Hot Pick 1214 features labels that can be stamped and wrapped with thread, a great way to bring dimension to the card. And the lace from Hot Pick 1212 is so fine, despite this, it stamps up on top of the painted background with amazing detail. This is one of the fantastic features of the fresco finish acrylic paint, it is so matte, that stamping on top is easy! The dress form comes from the new Hot Pick 1215. Again, a crunchy, fresco-painted die cut flower using grunge flower 1, and the set grunge flower 2/3 layered together is the embellishment I can't live without at the moment.


We even have some new collages stamps to match these dies on Hot Pick plate 1209. This plate also has some awesome union jack bunting.

28 demonstrators each doing something different at the Craft Barn is an amazing opportunity to see new products and plenty of ideas how to use them all! Every year there are people discovering this weekend, and loving every minute meeting other like minded crafters, meeting crafty friends, old and new.

This sample above shows the efficiency of using our newest stamping surface, 'Crackly', a robust coated tissue paper, on a particularly textured surface, in this case it was crackled, then sanded and was quite lumpy. Crackly is a perfect medium to use when you want to add an image to an uneven surfaces like wood, canvas, or even a heavily painted tag. Stamp the image in an archival ink (ranger archival, versafine), heat set, and then you can paint from the reverse with opaque paints, or from the front with translucent, so as not to compromise the blackness of the stamped image. Once painted, you can adhere easily to the receiving surface with Satin Glaze.

This lovely label (Hot pick 1212) was stamped onto painted fabric with coffee archival ink, heat set and painted. The paint smoothes out the texture of the fabric, allowing the detail of the stamp to be seen clearly.

So those are some of my samples, but the day before, lucky for Lynne (aka Blingy Lynne, Essex Lynne, Cheryl or Bodgerbird - how does one person have so many names!) and I, we pleaded our case for a day off last week, and off we zoomed down to Lingfield early Friday morning to actually take a class for a change rather than teach one!!

Andy Skinner was weaving his magic with paint to create all kinds of aged effects, and showed us in a perfectly chilled out manner how to turn a paper mâché box into this rather special little number.

I particularly enjoyed the patina effect on the roof, and making the corners of the crackled facings look dented and rain-washed drippy-rusty. If you want to learn these and other techniques, then I suggest you sign up for his online classes, they look marvellous! He also teaches at the Craft Barn every month, so maybe you could catch him there.

So back to the weekend itself, plenty of visitors came by to take a look, many familiar faces! Here is Alison, Beccy, Mickey, Stephanie and Paula. They basically took over my desk and jumped in boots and all Sunday afternoon- they just couldn't watch any longer and had to have a go!

.... so I made space, gave them each a tag, and they played with paint, stencils and for the best part of an hour painted, stamped and embellished what turned into epic tags!

..... While i had a cup of tea, and the brownie Anna gave me the day before-it was delish!

Somehow I have lost steph's photo ( unless I forgot to take one, but I'm sure I did!!!) , but I do have pics of Alison's

Here is Beccy's

This one is Mickey's

And this was Paula's

On Sunday I also popped into the Victoria Hall and walked straight into Helen Chilton, who is partial to a Lynne Perrella stamp or 3! She was showing her amazing pull-tab cards! I think they are fantastic, and so well suited to this technique.

Here you can see them in greater detail.

So I'll finish up with a few more samples I made over the weekend

This one is made on the chunky hanging boards that are so cheap and easy to work on, a paper mâché surface, about 1cm deep, they make a great dimensional addition to your project. I painted it with French roast and hey pesto, then sponged old gold through the diamond stencil. Over this a small Artemio bird (these come 3 per pack) was painted in hey pesto and pumpkin soup, then lightly stamped with script. The whole piece was layered onto another painted tag, and torn sections of old book pages, crunchy, calico were used to create a textured contrast.

And these last 2 again show how stamping on crackly, colouring it, then adding it to your background is a great way to make the colours pop off the background.

I do have a bit of a simple trick you may like to try..... Crackly is a robust coated tissue paper, and if you colour in the image with paint, and once dry, paint over the entire back with snowflake white opaque paint. When you stick the finished piece of tissue onto the background, the background will not show through the tissue, so that the colours of the image stay true. It's a really nice way to attach an image to an uneven surface.

So there you have it, another fantastic weekend, make sure you don't miss the 2013 event!