A die-cut card-making session

I recently received more cutting dies that I had ordered and, still being excited by a new hobby, I decided I wanted to test some of them out. That led to a bit of a card-making session, some of which have already been sent off as birthday cards for Post Pals children. Others haven’t found a use yet. Here they are:

The princess castle isn’t stuck on straight. Grr! Unfortunately the glue had set before I realised. Also, I coloured in the flags but I’m not sure whether it would have been better to just leave them as they were. Oh well. That one has already gone off to a girl who, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, is turning 7.

I absolutely love the balloon jar and am already imagining other things I could put inside a jar. I’m not sure about the positioning of the writing though. I still have that card currently, but I’m sure I’ll find a use for it soon.

You might recognise the Happy Birthday shape and the felt butterflies from this card. The frame die cut is new. I quite like how this turned out. It’s simple, but I think it’s pretty. I still have that one at present but I think I know who’s going to get it.

Finally, for the football card, I die cut the shape twice, once in white and once in black, then used the black “negative” pieces to fill in the white outline, resulting in an inverted football. I’m not sure why I did it that way round first? I still have the black outline and white pieces so I can make a normal football. A lot of the Post Pals boys like football so I have a feeling this die will be getting quite a bit of use! The little footballs are stickers and the sentiment came free with a magazine. That card is already on its way to a Post Pal’s sibling.

I cut out a few other shapes, including a giraffe and some unicorns, but I haven’t done anything with them yet. Perhaps you’ll see them on a future card.

I think I’m going to need some more practice before I learn the most effective way to use die cuts on my cards! Not that these ones are bad necessarily, but I feel like I could make much better use of the shapes. Any die-cutting experts want to weight in with advice? I’m all ears (well, eyes… you know what I mean).

What do you think of these cards? Not bad for a die-cutting beginner, right?

Card, sweet card

It’s very rare that I make a card that doesn’t involve any cross stitch whatsoever, mostly because I feel like my plain old hand made cards just aren’t as good. I’m not all that talented at card making, so I tend to let an awesome cross-stitched picture do most of the talking. But occasionally I will be struck by inspiration, or I’ll want to make someone a hand-made card but just won’t have the time to stitch something to go on it.

In this case, it was a bit of both. Loads of Post Pals and siblings have their birthdays this month, and there just isn’t going to be time to stitch a card for all of them (especially since I should really have stitched at least a few designs for Christmas cards by now!). With the sixteenth birthday of one of the pals coming up, I knew I wanted to do something with sweet sixteen. Then I remembered some buttons I had that looked just like the tops of lollipops. And so this sweet card was born…

pink sixteenth birthday card

Usually when I make cards they don’t turn out the way I imagined them, but this time I’m actually quite proud of what I came up with!

In case you’re wondering, no I’m not that good at writing… the “Sweet” was made using a stencil and “Sixteen” involved a printer, tracing paper and more luck than skill 😉

If you want more card-making inspiration, check out this one Kezzie made by recycling one element of a different card. Very clever (and good for the environment too!).

In which I attempt to do something different with my cross stitch

Some time around November last year it suddenly occurred to me that I could branch out from card making and use little cross stitch designs to make brooches. So I bought some brooch backs from the Internet and promptly became so busy with Christmas cards that the idea of making anything else went completely out of my head. At the weekend, I rediscovered the brooch backs and decided to give it a go…

From a distance it looks alright (particularly if the photo is nice and blurry… sorry about that). I pinned it on a cushion for the second photo to get an idea of what it would look like in use.

How about a close up?

daisy-brooch3

Hmm. The sharp-eyed among you may notice my not really even stitching and the badly cut edges of the Aida (the fabric the pattern is cross stitched on).

Turn over…

  1. The brooch back thing was supposed to be in the middle. Why isn’t it in the middle?
  2. The stitching on the little strip of felt that’s covering the brooch back is awful! Note to self: stitch that little strip on before sewing the two bits of felt together.
  3. The sharp-eyed among you may notice that the strip of felt isn’t even covering all of the stitching that’s holding the brooch back on, thus completely defeating its purpose.

Apart from all that, it’s not bad for a first attempt 😉

Now I just have eleventy million brooch backs to somehow use up. (Well, 99 anyway…)

Welcome to Night Vale: The Librarian

The entire point of our trip to Paris was to see a live show of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. The title of the show they’re currently performing in Europe is The Librarian. I went with Jan and my friend K, who is the one that first got us into it. Amazingly I was the one who told her about the European shows though! All the performances in Germany were either too far away (Hamburg!) or in the middle of the week, but Paris is only 3 hours from us and the show was on a Friday, meaning only one day off was needed. Perfect!

For those of you who don’t know the podcast, a brief summary. Night Vale is a desert community somewhere in America (presumably the south-west – that’s where all the seserts are, right?). The premise of the podcast is that it’s community radio, so each podcast contains things like the community calendar, traffic, local news and announcements  about things that are happening in town, all read out by narrator Cecil (voiced by Cecil Baldwin). But all is not as it seems in Night Vale. For instance, there are angels… or at least beings claiming to be angels and a dog park that neither dogs nor humans are allowed to enter. Also, beware of helicoptors, librarians and hooded figures. Basically listen to it! It’s free to download, so at least go and get the pilot. If you don’t like it, you haven’t wasted any money.

As I’ve said, the show we went to see was entitled The Librarian. I won’t tell you too much about what happens because a recording will be released at some point in the future, and also the tour isn’t even over yet! I will, however, say this much: it all starts when the town council decides to renovate the public library and one of the librarians gets loose. Also, creator Joseph Fink shows up as new intern Joseph… and we all know what happens to interns! Seeing Night Vale live was an amazing experience. The shows are always good, but Cecil’s facial expressions and gesticulations added a whole extra dimension. In fact, everyone did a great job (other performers included former mayor Pamela Winchell, who called a press conference (what else?) right in the studio and Deb as one of Night Vale’s sponsors, played by Meg Bashwiner better known as the voice of the credits). Here are some photos of the show:

The weather was performed by Mary Epworth, a British singer-songwriter who I liked a lot.

There were quite a few people with the Night Vale moon drawn on them or extra eyes, but there were also some really good costumes. One of my favourites was an excellent girl scout! Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of her, although Jan did get one of a different girl scout. K went as the glow cloud, and was quite rightly hailed/worshipped all night. I think every single audience member wanted a photo either of or with her! I went as Tamika Flynn (as I’ve already mentioned) and was very disappointed by how few people actually knew what I was supposed to be! Especially considering Tamika is one of the few characters who is actually described even vaguely. And you would have thought the librarian head would have given it away! Most people only understood after I showed them my sticker chart, which had “my” name on it. One group of hooded figures actually thought I was supposed to be a librarian, which was a bit weird! Here are a few photos anyway (some taken by me, some by Jan). I have included one of K which I hope gives a good enough impression of her costume without revealing her identity too much (yes, I know it seems hypocritical to care about that considering I’m using photos of a bunch of strangers, but being strangers it’s less likely that people will figure out who they are via me!)

At the end of the show, we hung around for a bit waiting for the performers to come out. I bought a CD by Mary Epworth, which she signed for me, then eventually Cecil Baldwin and Joseph Fink showed up. I got them to sign my ticket (Cecil also signed my sticker chart) and got a photo with each of them. They were both lovely 🙂

After the show, we decided to go for a drink with two other girls we had met there. One we met in the queue (she came over to meet the glow cloud) and she ended up sitting with us and the other we met after the show when she wanted a photo with K. Appropriately enough, she was wearing a glow cloud T-shirt. All in all, it was an excellent night and I’m glad we went. It being on Halloween was just an added touch of brilliance. If there is ever another tour of Europe, I would definitely think about going!

You can download all the episodes of Welcome to Night Vale here or also on iTunes.

Preoccupied

It’s been days since I last blogged! So much for my resolution to update more often… But there’s something else that’s been keeping me busy. Something I can’t walk past without feeling compelled to sit down for just a minute (and it’s sitting in the living room, which is between our bedroom and the room the computer’s in, so I walk past it a lot). A minute is never long enough though, I get absorbed and am overtaken by the determination to actually achieve something. The next thing I know, hours have passed!
What am I talking about?

It’s a jigsaw puzzle! Not the most productive use of my time (especially when I should be cleaning the kitchen…), but at least it keeps me busy while Jan is away, yet again! Normal blogging service shall resume as soon as I’ve fitted the last piece 😉

All crafted out

Today was Reunification Day (Tag der deutschen Einheit), Germany’s national holiday, which meant my office was closed. ABout time a holiday fell on a useful day! A long weekend is never to be sneezed at. I decided to seize my extra day off and take the opportunity to get some crafting done ready for my auction – which I promise to actually explain to you all one of these days. I now have a grand total of eleven cards. For those of you who couldn’t believe I was starting on Christmas cards in September, now you know why. I am slow! I really must get on with things though, if I want to make all the Christmas cards to send to my family as well. Have I taken on too much, I wonder? I’m actually quite proud of a few of my cards. I’m definitely getting better at this creativity lark – surprising really, seeing as I had absolutely no talent for art at school. I’ve grown up knowing that my sister was the artistic one. The intelligent one as well, come to think of it. I wonder which one that makes me?
I’m planning on making some more cards after work one evening this week. For now though, I’m all crafted out. I shall dream of glitter tonight, I’m sure! At least that will be better than dreaming about being pregnant, which I have twice recently. And no, I am not before anyone gets any ideas!!

Here’s one I made earlier…

I was asked to upload some of my handmade cards to this blog (only by one person, as I recall, but I was still asked!) and now that Jan has sorted it out so the compter will recognise my camera again when I plug it in – which it had randomly decided to stop doing – I can actually deliver on my promise and show me what’s been keeping me away from the blogosphere for most of the past two months. Hope you like them!

Teddy bear greeting card with hand-stitched balloon
Wedding card

Make a Wish card

I also branched out and decided to make some keyrings, which  actually worked out better than I expected.

Some of this stuff is already for sale in my friend’s online shop, other’s will be coming soon. And there’s some amazing stuff in there made by other people. You really should check it out! It’s all for a good cause (Tiny Lives) and in memory of a very special little girl. And it would make me ridiculously happy if someone other than my mother were to actually buy something I’d made! Check out http://www.artfire.com/users/MyStarEllie today!

Busy, but happy

If you’d told me a couple of years ago that one day I’d be rushing home each night excited to try out my latest idea for a handmade greeting card I would probably have laughed at you. I was never the artistic one in my family – that role being reserved for my sister, who was well on her way to an excellent grade for A-Level art until she decided to drop out of sixth form. I, on the other hand, dropped art as soon as I was allowed – much to the relief of my long-suffering teacher. Stick men are the extent of my drawing skills! So it’s somewhat surprising to me that not only do I enjoying making my own greeting cards but, actually, I’m not all that bad it. At least I’ve had no complete disasters so far, and I’ve even managed one or two that I’m actually proud of.  Who could ever have imagined that this crafting business might actually be fun? I’ve even started branching out into jewellery! Not that I’ve done much with that yet.  So far I’ve only managed to make a couple of pairs of earrings and I’m currently waiting for more equipment to arrive, but once it does I shall get down to the jewellery making in earnest! I could seriously imagine dedicating a large part of my life to this making stuff for charity lark! The only problem is, I am now physically incapable of passing the stationary shops without popping in to look at the pretty paper. And of course I can never resist taking a couple of sheets with me. Then there’s the shop that sells the beads. And, of course, DaWanda, which is pretty much the German version of Etsy. Lots of materials there for both card making and jewellery making. And I can pay via PayPal, which is quite frankly dangerous! I really must start restraining myself, otherwise I’ll be finding myself completely broke before even one bill has been paid from my wages each month. Ooops!

We’re off to England for a long weekend tomorrow (my cousin is getting married), so my creativity shall have to be put on hold for a couple of days, but once I return I’ll be getting straight back into it. In between arranging my FSID tea party of course. So much to do! But when it’s all stuff I enjoy I really don’t mind not having a spare moment (my poor flat might disagree though, if it could talk! If my grandma could see my kitchen floor she’d have a fit!)

For a good cause…

I wanted to show you some of the results of the project I was telling you about in my last post, but the computer is refusing to upload photos from my camera so I shall just have to tell you instead…

After getting a few cross stitch designs onto paper, I decided it was about time to start getting a few of them onto fabric to find out whether what I’d been imagining could even work. There’s a world of difference between a few symbols on squared paper and an actual cross-stitched product! So I got some of the leftover Aida from a previous project, dug out some of the threads I no longer needed and gave it a whirl. And… success! I managed to produce a toadstool that actually looked like a toadstool! A few days before that an online friend had mentioned that she was running an auction in aid of the Shaken Baby Syndrome SUpport Network and was looking for people who made things and would be wiling to donate something for the auction. I decided this was an excellent first step on the road to my long-term goal (more on that later) and started stitching like crazy, managing to produce a bookmark, a birthday card and three gift tags, all in just over a week. Not bad for someone who works full time! The auction is on next Tuesday, so I guess then I’ll find out whether anyone is actually willing to buy my creations and whether it’s worth persuing my other idea. Which brings me back to long-term goals…

Back when I started toying with the idea of maybe designing my own cross stitch patterns, the vague idea of possibly selling them at some point also crossed my mind. At the time I dismissed it, but once I had actually started putting the designs on paper, the idea returned. What if, I thought, I created a shop on DaWanda (the German version of Etsy, for those who are wondering), sold some self-designed and hand-made cross stitched products and gave all the money to charity? Finally a hobby that might actually lead to something meaningful! Sounds good, no? Currently, though, I’m not actually sure whether I will ever be able to put my idea into practice. German law says that if I make things with the intention of selling them I am running a business, and have to register myself as such. What nobody seems to know is whether this is still the case if I don’t even want the money I’ll be earning from selling my stuff. My plan is to give every single penny to charity. No earning back the costs of material then giving the rest to charity. 100% of the selling price would go to whichever organisation I wanted to help at the time (the plan also involves switching charities once in a while to help as many people as possible). So for now I’m still researching and reading and asking questions and, of course, waiting to find out whether anyone even wants the items I’ve donated for the aforementioned auction. And in the meantime I shall continue to draw (badly) and design and stitch, so that if my shop ever does come into being I will actually have something to sell in it. Stay tuned…

Oh, and the auction that I have possible donated my creations to (if they actually manage to arrive on time) has a Facebook page here which you all need to go and look at and bid on stuff. It’s for a good cause you know…

A quick note…

For those who were interested in seeing the photos from my 101 Things Photo Challenge, I’ve create a photobucket account to upload them to. I won’t be putting all 50 up for every single month, (so you’ll just have to take my word for it that I actually took all 50 😉 ) but you will at least be able to get an idea of what I’ve been doing.
Here is the URL: http://photobucket.com/bevchenn (I had to call myself bevchenn on there because bevchen with just 1 ‘n’ was already taken. Unbelievable!)