Monday 27 August 2012

Crafty weekend in {Ireland}

I'm not the best when an early start is required, but last Friday was a fun early start. Off for a few days with Lin Brown to take a class with Anna Dabrowska in cork, Ireland. Mark stumbled across Anna's site when we were considering exhibiting at Scraptastic a few months back, and then, a few weeks later, Lin heard about Anna teaching in Ireland, and asked me if I wanted to go. Without thinking I said yes and we booked.

So glad we did. Not only did we get to hop on a few buses and see a bit of the countryside, but we also stayed in a great, nicely priced hotel, and of course did some shopping, and topped it all off with 2 awesome classes with Anna.

Breakfast table
I don't really want to sound like a hotel advert, but I seem to be getting fussy when it comes to hotels, and this one ticked all the boxes and more.

Crazy toilet door...same inside and out!
Crazy toilet decor
Modern, kind of quirky with some fun decor ideas (yes the loos were weird, but fabulous compared to the portaloos as V Festival last weekend!) Comfortable, great, reasonably priced food. So, I can recommend the Cork international airport hotel which is directly across from the airport, and only a 5 min walk across the car park to get to it. There is a shuttle bus service too if your bags are too many to carry.

All checked in and we headed off to Cork to suss out the town centre. Not only did we find a super coffee shop with a huge selection of tea, hot chocolate and coffee. As it was a bit wet and cold out, we opted for the hot choc option, and it was amazing!

Another lovely sight was this display of bottles collaboratively made, painted and displayed, these guys gave me their flyer, but i must have left it in the hotel. They said there was a video on YouTube showing how to make them. It was fantastic to see!

Our taxi driver suggested we take a look at the undercover food market, called the English Market. The fish displays were stunning, and I felt a bit sorry for leaving Mark at home who has been trying to get beautiful fresh fish to smoke for a few weeks, he would have been sorted here. Several amazing fishmongers to choose from. When we were in Weymouth last week, he planned to get some on the last morning to bring back to smoke, but we were told by local fishermen they had been prevented for going out to fish during the Olympics for security reasons, and so all the fish for weymouth at that time was coming in from London!

The next day we took the bus to Kinsale, and it was a beautiful coastal spot. Again, slightly dodgy weather, but it did improve as the day wore on, and the streets were so colourful and fun to explore, plus lots of fab art galleries, so we were happy bunnies.

We had amazing, and not expensive food the whole trip, nothing fancy schmancy, but fresh, well presented and very tasty! Here again in Kinsale we found a tea shop with amazing cake and huge cups of tea.

I think we will both be making trips back with family in the future!

So to the class itself. Lin and I were first to arrive and we immediately were rewarded with a goodie bag for being early! A great start.

Anna launched into class and kept the pace galloping along at breakneck speed, demoing each step and giving us what seemed like half the necessary time to get it all done, somehow, we managed to almost complete each stage by the next demo, and before we knew it the class was over. Here are a couple of the pieces she had on display.

I love how she can do OTT crazy loaded with bellies and colour, or minimalist and a splash of colour. It really is my cup of tea and I took to the process like a duck to water. I was in heaven!

Her style is very unique, but uses all the products you probably have in your stash. In effect she builds a grungy base from 12x12, adds strips of card for texture, then photos, washi tape, and finally flowers or other embellishments. We learned how to develop the structure of the peice with colour, positioning and stamped, embossed images as a resist, and how to place bellies and and add colour to many other elements.

This was my project from the first class, a picture of Miss 18 doing one of her trout pouts -I find this kind of pic on my iPad regularly. Kids eh.

This class was a bit 'flat' in the embellishment department compared to the next one which is mega lumpy.

It was a great intro to colour, sprays and structure of a layout. Not being a scrap booker, I did find the hardest bit was getting the photo in the right place onto the other layers. I never work with photos, but I get why people do!

This second class I used a picture of Ella also practising the Essex faved-by-teens trout pout. Again, found it on the iPad. Do they think I won't check my photo file?

The close ups show you the height involved here. It really was interesting getting everything to stay stuck and of course lots of the elements wer soggy from the spray too.

And here you can see a bit better the detail in some of the edges- punched layered and distressed.

So I'm itching to have a go at more of this concept, I have loads and loads of bellies that will work nicely.

If you get a chance to go to one of Anna's classes you must. If not in Ireland again next weekend, then try scraptastic in Belgium this October or check out her upcoming schedule!


Thursday 9 August 2012

7 New {Lynne Perrella} stamps are online

Well how exciting is the Olympics!! Everyone here in Britain seems to have gone bonkers! So great to see people the world over supporting their athletes who have worked so hard to get to where they are.

Of course we are finding it so hard to drag ourselves away from the Olympic TV here (the UK has 24 LIVE Olympic TV channels to choose from), so we are supporting both team GB and Team NZ. Everyone is doing so well, it's wonderfully inspiring to watch!

Here at PA HQ harvest started late yesterday on the farm, so we are in a dust storm every 20 minutes when the harvesters come back around in front of the property. So far the wind has been taking the worst of it away from us. Unusually its a foggy start to the day, so I expect we have a few hours before things dry out enough for them to return. It's set to be a scorcher (finally after 10 days of greyness) this afternoon, so we are up early making stamps before HQ temperatures get to 35 degrees with the machinery up and running.

This quick post is to let you know we have 7 new Lynne Perrella stamps available online in the shop now.

And yes of course we will be exhibiting this Sunday at the Stevenage 'Stamperama' show, so if you can make it, come and have a look around. It is a stamp-specific show - all the exhibitors are only allowed to take brands specific to their stand, so there is not a lot of double up across the stands, which makes for great variety on offer and there are always lots of demos to see too. Stevenage is up the A1 from the M25, once on the A1, its only about a 20-25 minute drive north, so its not as far from the M25 as you think. The Stevenage Arts and Leisure centre is easy to find on the dual carriage way way in front of a huge Tescos. Plenty of parking, and easy to get to from the train too.



Don't forget to also check out the new Hot Picks (sewing, ephemera and Halloween) are in the shop too, Portfolio Oil Pastels are back in stock.

Lastly we have added quite a lot of new Ink and the Dog style minis. These are credit card sized stamps, and we have been getting many requests for more script style background images in particular, but we have also added stamps that fit in with new themes from recent releases, haberdashery for example.
When I list all the new stamps we have created in recent weeks, I now understand where all out time has gone! Something for everyone I'm sure, and we will have them all on the stand at Stevenage this Sunday! 

Lastly, a note about ink. We often get asked about whihc ink we reccomend to use with our grungey stamps. We rand a bunch of test recently, and we discovered the ink whihc performed the best on our stamps are those which cover the rubber with a nice even coverage. In general dye inks are quite thin, and pigment inks are quite thick. Permanent inks fall somewhere in the middle.

The ink that did the best job on our smoothy stamping paper with Lynne Perrella images was Versafine Onyx Black. The black was much blacker than any other ink, the detail of the images was much sharper, and the coverage of ink on the rubber was beautiful, not too thick and not too thin. The other thing i liked was once the image was stamped, there was no 'bleed'. Some of the thinner dye inks keep travelling on the paper/ card after the image has been stamped, which can make the image look bit blurry.

Versafine was originally developed back in the day for photographic stamps that were all the rage. We often would apply the ink to the stamp with a small brayer, this way the ink did not collect in the texture of the rubber stamp, and you got a nice even layer of ink. Versafine has a reasonable amount of oil in the ink, which makes it slow drying, and so it can be clear embossed as it will stay wet long enough for you to do so. It also might smoke a bit as you dry it off with your heat gun...I am told that is due to the oil in the ink. And it may take longer to heat-dry than other inks, but the Onyx black is particularly jet black.

So dig out your ink pads, and you do your own tests, let me know what you think - we all have our favourites. 

I know a lot of you will say what about StazOn? It is a solvent based ink designed for smooth shiny surfaces where a quick dry is required (metal, acetate, acrylic, shrink plastic, ceramics etc) and loads of people use it on paper not realising this - read the label on the back! It is a very thin ink, and so it can bleed through on paper, you don't get the coverage on grungey detailed rubber stamps when inking them up, and the solvent base from which it is formulated is not very good for the longevity of clear stamps, they will deteriorate really fast with regular use of a solvent ink. Rubber can tolerate a solvent ink no worries as it is very hardy, but I try to stick to using stazOn for smooth and shiny surfaces.

Hope to see many of you at Stevenage!