Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Very strange!

What a strange weekend, in a nice sort of way!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I made the decision earlier in the year not to work at any of the big retail shows - NEC, Ally Pally, Excel, Summer Crafting etc but it really hit home this weekend whilst the big craft show was on at the NEC. On Thursday I was sitting at my desk in my office doing my "day job" and I just happened to look at the clock and saw that it was 9:30 and realised that the first day at the NEC was about to start when a sudden wave of sadness came over me...... however it didn't last long when someone came and said that they were having problems with there computer!

So, back to the weekend....................... I needed to drop some storage units of to the lovely Maria Simms who has opened a small unit near to where she lives in order to run workshops - if you are in the Wirral area (I think that is where she is based!) - I would highly recommend attending one of Maria's workshops - she is mega talented! Check out her blog HERE If you are not near to Maria, there is a team of other very talented Clarity Tutors up and down the UK and all the details can be found HERE

Anyway, I digress, again! Another reason was to collect some stock from Pinflair for a workshop/demo I am doing at Dragons Paper Craft in Rugby to celebrate their 2nd Birthday on Saturday 29th March

Blimey, I have done it again! Back to the weekend! So on Saturday morning I set off to the NEC, nice and early - 5am! I arrived at the carpark and met up with Barbara Gray and handed over the contents of my car to her lorry so that Maria could collect it later to take back home on the Sunday evening when the show closed, then headed into the hall before the show opened. Walking into the hall, before it opened was normal, it sort of felt as if I was working, it still hadn't hit me that I was not there to work! I dropped some stuff off at Katy Sue Designs, then bumped into lovely Joanna Sheen and Jo Channon and had a quick catchup, then headed towards the Pinflair stand to find Princess Pinflair and her team of merry men and my crafty partner in crime, Antony!

I had a good catch up with Team Pinflair and then before I knew it the show was open and I took my position next to Antony ready for the throng of crafters streaming through the doors, and that is when it hit me! I was on the wrong side of the stand! I was not there to work, I was a "customer" !!! I can't really explain the emotions that came over me, it was really strange, so I made my excuses and dashed off to let it all sink in!

So the show was open, now what was I supposed to do? Follow the crowd I suppose! But before I started following II grabbed a coffee and started to wander.......first stop was Oyster Stamps to have a catchup with the lovely Queen of Bling, Martine working her magic with various flower dies and the lovely Tracey & Graham who run Oyster. If you are ever looking for some great bargains in all things crafty, then this is a wonderful place to visit, either online HERE or at the shop in Rochester. They seem to be ahead of the UK market when it comes to new releases from the USA and the prices are pretty good too!  Oh, and I am doing a workshop on the 24th May!

So then it was time to join the hustle and bustle of the crafty crowd! How I had forgotten what it was like to be pushed and shoved!!!! I gave the show a once over and then headed off for another coffee! This time I ventured into the Creative Stitches part of the show thinking it may be a bit quieter - how wrong was I - it was worse! However, what I did notice is how bright and colourful all the stands were - my eyes were darting all over the place, looking at the wool, the fabrics and some of the stunning artwork from knitted products, quilts and novelty items. So as I ventured back into the Hobbycrafts part of the show, I came across the Create & Craft stand where the lovely Mel Heaton was showing people how to use the Scan n Cut - when I first saw this launched on TV it was very hard to resist buying it, but somehow I did as I didn't want to add it to my collection of other unused electronic machines - Cricut, Craft Robo, eCraft & Silhouette Portrait, plus I wanted to be able to see it up close and personal - I spent about 45 minutes watching Mel and really fell in love with it - if they had them to purchase there and then, I think I would have left the show with one, but they didn't - did I then rush home and order one, no!

So I did a bit more wandering and then decided it was time to leave. So I said my goodbyes, collected the stuff from Pinflair and then headed back to car. I looked at the clock and realised that it was just after 1pm! So what did I buy? Hard to believe, but I came home with no crafty purchases! So it looks like I may have to visit my local craft shops instead!

When I got home I was totally shattered, physically and mentally and crashed out on the sofa!

Right, I suppose I have waffled on enough for tonight - plus I need to get on with my prep for Saturday at Dragon's Paper Crafts in Rugby!

Happy Crafting

Paul xx

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Keeping it local!

Well after my blogfest the other week I thought I would give you all a bit of a rest from my mutterings!!!!!!!

So what have I been upto? Well last Sunday I was at a lovely little craft shop hidden away in Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey called Poppy Crafts run by the lovely Denise. 

It is shops like Poppy Crafts and my local craft shop, Pantiles Crafts, Games & Books that, in my opinion offer the best one to one customer service for crafters as they are often run by crafters, for crafters. A lot of people think that if you have a shop, you must be raking it in! In some circumstances, that may be the case, but with the current economic climate, online shops, large chains, TV etc it has a massive knock on affect on the small independent shops. So, next time you are out and about and come across an independent craft shop, why not pop in and show them your support!

If you are local to Kent or looking for a day out, both the Isle of Sheppey and Tunbridge Wells have lots to offer for a family day out - so whilst your are browsing the craft shop, your other half or family will have stuff to keep them occupied

The details for Poppy Crafts are as follows:
 33 Victoria Street, Sheerness, ME12 1YA - 01795-666976

The details for Pantiles Papertole are as follows:
13 The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 5TD - 01892-618191

Right, okay I will get off my soap box now!

So this week is the start of the 4 day Hobbycrafts Show at the NEC in Birmingham from Thursday through to Sunday and for the first time in about 10 years I will not be working the show. 

It was a really hard decision to make, but some of you will know that I have a "day job" Monday to Friday, so in order to do the NEC and other retail shows, it means that I have to use my "holiday" to "work" the shows. Now don't get me wrong, I love doing the retail shows, playing with crafty materials and getting to meet so many lovely crafty friends, new and old but this year I want a proper holiday and I am going all out and having 2! A week in France with some very talented crafty friends and a week (or at the rate things are going!) a long weekend in Spain visiting friends. On top of that I have the lovely Clarity Retreat with my very good friend Barbara Gray. So I will be thinking of you all as you head off to the NEC over the 4 days! But saying all of that, I will be popping up to the NEC on Saturday as I have some stuff that I need to collect for some upcoming demo/workshops and it will be nice to be able to walk around the show and catch up and a crafty gossip with friends.

Right, I think that is enough for tonight, the next stash of Clarity Stamps & Stencils have arrived to make samples for the next Clarity TV show and I want/need to play!

Happy Crafting

Paul x

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Gyro-Cut Hints & Tips

So here are my Hints & Tips to get the best from your Gyro-Cut
  • In order for you to get a good clean cut I would highly recommend that you get some repositionable spray as it makes a massive difference when trying to cut your card and paper
  • Using a glass cutting mat is preferable to a self healing mat, but they will both do the job
  • Spray your mat with the adhesive, leave it dry for 5 minutes or so and then take some A4 copy paper, stick it to your mat and then remove it - repeat this about 5-10 times depending on how much you have sprayed your mat
  • Don't expect to go straight to your decoupage and start cutting out perfectly - you need to get used to the knife
  • Take some more A4 copy paper and stick it onto your mat and just play!!!!! 
  • Remember to let the knife do all the work
  • Don't rush it, it isn't a race!!!
  • Take a ruler and just cut some straight line!
  • When you are comfortable with the knife and the way in which it works, take a sheet of decoupage (maybe a design you don't like!) and give it a go
I hope that the above is of use, but if you have any questions - give me a shout and I will see if I can help!

Happy crafting

Paul x

Stencil Frenzy!!!!!! - Step By Step

Okay, for those that have seen my previous post, you will know how excited I am about one of the new Clarity Stencils called Tangle (you will need to read about it on my previous post if you missed it!)

This is the Tangle Stencil

My head is currently buzzing with what I can do with such a universal design inking, embossing, stamping, grunge pasting, glitter paste, the list is endless!

So the first Step By Step is this card

Here is a list of ingredients that I used (obvioulsy you can choose your own colours)
Post-it Notes

Take your Square Honeycomb Stencil and attach it to a piece of the 6x6 Gelli Arts card stock using the low tack tape
Then take you Post-it Notes in fill in the centre
Now remove the the Square Honeycomb Stencil leaving the Post-it Notes in place and attach your new Tangle Stencil. Take an inkpad colour of your choice (I chose Tim Holtz Salty Ocean) and apply the ink using the Clarity Brushes
When you are done, carefully lift the stencil to ensure that you have added enough colour
If you are happy with the result, remove the Post-it Notes, but leave the stencil attached
Next stamp the Large Hummingbird and Trumpet Flower in place and then cover with the Masks (as I was in a rush, I made my own)
Now place the stencil back over the top
Make sure that you do not have too much ink on your Clarity Brush and gentle brush over the white area and then remove the stencil
Now take your Black Micro Pen and create a wiggly/zig-zag border around the paler area

Now take your Promarkers or colouring in pens/pencils of your choice and add some colour. I chose: Green Shoot & Oasis for the Hummingbird and Budding Rose and Fresh Bloom for the Trumpet Flower

When you are finished, take the Clear Stardust pen and colour the Hummingbird to give him a gentle sparkle


Here are the ingredients for the 2nd card:

Post-it Notes

First choose the words you want to use from the various Word Chain sets and stamp onto the Post-It Note and trim down to create your masks

Next, attach your Tangle Stencil to your 6x6 Gelli Arts card stock using your low tack tape. Place your Word Chain Masks onto your card
 Cover with the stencil and check that they are positioned within the frame of the mask
Next choose a colour of your choice (I have chosen Tim Holtz Salty Ocean) and apply the colour in a diagonal pattern using your Clarity Stencil Brushes to create a stripe effect - I have done diagonal, but you could go from left to right or top to bottom
Left up the mask and see what it looks like
Now place the mask back down and choose a 2nd colour (I chose Tim Holtz Pickled Raspberry) and fill in the white areas using the Clarity Stencil Brushes and allow the colour from the first colour to blend slightly
When you are done, lift up the stencil to check that you have everything covered
If you need to add more colour, place the stencil back down and continue

When you are happy with the colour, remove the stencil and the masks
Rather than use a black ink pad I wanted to use the same colours from the ink pads I had used, but rather than just use one of the colours, I wanted it to be mixed, so I took my A4 Clarity Blending Mat and squidged some colour from each of the ink pads
Next, I mounted the words onto the handles and randomly stamped into the 2 different colours on the blending mat and mixing them up, I tested how it would look onto scrap paper first and when I was happy I stamped into the white areas

Well I hope that you have enjoyed the 2 projects above and more importantly the new Tangle Stencil, I know that this will be used in a lot of my upcoming samples.

All products are available from the Clarity website HERE or by following the links on the "Ingredients" list - some colours of inkpads/pens may not be available, but other options are available

Happy Crafting

Paul x

Stencil frenzy!!!!!

Okay, so I am really, really excited about this post!

As some of you know, when I make samples for either the TV, workshops, demos etc I like to look at the stamps in a different way and see what else I can come up with. So when Clarity started producing stencils, I wanted to see if I could put the same principle into practice.

Recently Clarity launched lots of new stencils, one of which is the Family Tree

This is a great stencil and the Clarity Design Team did some fantastic samples with them. However, I loved the intricate pattern on the stencil

I used it to create a background on this sample

It just uses this part of the stencil

When I was at the Trade show in February, I was talking to Jim from Clarity and was saying that I really loved that part of the stencil and it would be great if it was a complete stencil. Jim explained the process of the stencil making and said that as it was so intricate it would take time for the machine to cut it out.

Anyway, a few weeks later I was launching the stencils at my local craft shop, Pantiles Crafts, Books & Games in Tunbridge Wells. When I showed the ladies what they could do with the stencil, they all agreed that it would make a fab stencil as well. Anyway, at the end of the day, Barbara just happened to be passing and a few of the ladies mentioned it. So Barbara, being Barbara she took it all on board.

So imagine my surprise, when I popped round to Barbara's on Friday evening for a bit of a Clarity Catchup and she gave me this, the new Tangle 7 x 7 stencil

I was totally blown away with and wanted to rush home and experiment!

Below are just a couple of things I have done so far. I will be blogging again later with step by step instructions on how I created both of the cards

This is the pattern with ink brushed through it with the Clarity Stencil Brushes

This will be step by step projects later (and the hummingbird will be coloured!)

The stencil is available now on the Clarity website HERE

Happy Crafting and check back later when I will have done the Step by Step instructions

Happy Crafting

Paul x

Saturday, 8 March 2014

TV Time!

So after a fabulous day at Daisy's Jewels Crafts in Coventry on Saturday I drove over to Peterborough and checked into my hotel ready for my TV show on Sunday.

For my day job, my alarm is normally set for 4am, so I thought that since I did not need to be at the TV studio until 10am and Shep was not here to wake me up, I decided to set my alarm for 8am - what is they say about best laid plans - 4am and I was wide awake! Should I get up, or should I go back to sleep? Well I went back to sleep and woke again at 6am with a raging headache - so I took some tablets, got up and popped to Costa next door at the services and within half an hour, the headache was all gone!

So what is like doing the shows on Create & Craft? It is a question that I often get asked and to be totally honest, it is just like having a one to one crafting session with the presenter. I remember when I did my first couple of TV shows, I was always told never to look at the cameras during the show and the reason for this is that if you look at the wrong camera, you tend to look like a rabbit caught in the headlights! So I do my best to try and not look at them, actually I often forget that they are there!

The normal set up in the studio is 3 cameras, the floor manager and the presenter. Now the presenter, I take my hat off to big time - it really does take a rather special person to be able to do that job. They wear an ear piece and through that ear piece, they have 3 different people talking to them, plus they have to talk to the guest and know which camera to look at and also look at the monitors with all the product details on. I have only ever worn an ear piece twice and I just had one person talking in my head (well apart from all the other little gremlins in there!) and it is very strange. I think that they way a lot of the presenters deal with all the voices, is to talk constantly. I know that it may come across on the screen as they are talking like made and keep repeating themselves, but seriously, try having a conversation on the land line, a conversation on the mobile, listening to the TV, listening to the radio all at the same time and then try and have a conversation with the person opposite you, oh and read the newspaper at the same time! Now I know that does sound a bit extreme, but that is the best way I can think of describing it. 

Anyway, back to the TV show!

In about April of 2013, Pinflair started stocking a new craft knife called the Gyro-Cut

This is the information from the Gyro-Cut website:

The amazing GYRO-CUT® craft and hobby tool is designed to easily cut thin sheet materials such as paper, vinyl, tissue paper and foil. It is also perfect for cutting materials used in the hobby world, such as Solarfilm®, Solartrim® and Solartex®. This hand-held tool has a 360 degree rotating blade which enables you to cut very complex shapes easily and quickly. Unlike other craft knives, the GYRO-CUT® blade will not readily cut human skin in normal use.Applications include paper cutting, decoupage, stencil making, paper crafting, artwork, graphic design, architecture, scrapbooking, signwriting using vinyl and many other uses. GYRO-CUT® also has many applications in the world of model making. It will enable you to cut complex shapes out of vinyl covering materials to create your own decals and roundels.
I really like using knives (for crafting!!!) but I prefer a small blade, so when I saw this I thought it would be perfect. Anyway, I got it home and had a play - I didn't like it! I have always be used to the blade being rigid and this one was all over the place, twisting and turning, I was gutted! I thought that this was going be a perfect replacement to my existing craft knife. So I decided that I was not going to give up - after all I had only tried it for 5 minutes and I was determined not to give up - so I spoke to Pinflair and asked a few questions. As a result of asking, I was now happy with my Gyro-Cut knife, it took my crafting to a "whole new level" - yeah right! Seriously though, once I give you a few hints and tips, you will be well away! But I will come to those later

So I was pleasantly surprised when Pinflair asked if I would take it on the TV. It made its debut on The Tool Shed in September 2013 - now I knew how much stock was going on the show. However, when I spoke to the producer, she told me that she loved the knife and knew it was going be really popular so she had ordered in 5 times the original stock! I did ask her if she was joking - afterall it is a knife! Anyway, she obviously new what she was talking about as at the end of the 2 hour launch show 85% of the revised stock had sold and a few hours later, the rest of the stock had gone! To say I was blown away by the response/demand was an understatement!

So this time we had a similar stock plus we had the replacement blades on the show for the first time as well. I had a great time with Martyn and the knife sold really well, again! I think at the end of the 2 hour show 80% of the stock  of the knives had sold and all of the replacement blades had sold out!

Anyway, I am struggling to stay awake, so check back tomorrow for my Hints & Tips for using the Gyro-Cut

Happy Crafting

Paul x

Friday, 7 March 2014

Clarity launch in Coventry

For past year or so, I have been visiting a wonderful craft shop in Coventry, run by a lovely husband and wife team, Jeff & Wendy called Daisy's Jewels & Crafts

The above picture was taken when they moved into a larger unit  - if you visit now, there is not much floor space as it filled to bursting with lots of lovely crafting goodies!

So, the 1st of March saw me launch a very small collection of Clarity stamps & stencils. 

Wendy & Jeff must have felt that it was safe for them to up sticks and attend a craft show in Malvern whilst leaving me in the capable hands of the lovely Rachael - it was tempting to run amok in the shop and move everything around whilst they were away, but fortunately, the ladies started arriving for the workshop!

It was so hard to choose what stamps and stencils to go with, as I have so many favourites! But I decided to go with a few of the classic Clarity stamps - these are the workshop cards:

and here are the ladies having fun

Here are some samples I made of the other stamps that were available on the day:

Then after a short break it was time to play and show the ladies some of the new stencils and stamps but before I show you what I got up to I had the two most adorable visitors who came to watch

Oh and I also got to meet the lovely Mandy Branston one of the Clarity Design Team members!

Here are the samples

So another fun filled day was over, the car was packed and it was time to head over to Peterborough ready for my TV show on Sunday........

Happy Crafting

Paul x