Monday, 20 May 2013

What's in a brand name ?

Some brands stand out head and shoulders above others and Faber Castell is one such brand. Everything they make just works, looks good and does what it says on the tin.
I treated myself to a Mix and Match Gelatos Mist Maker kit last week. You get a palette knife, 2 misting bottles a drip dropper ( sorry left that out of the photo for some reason) and a Gelato stick - this one was a gorgeous metallic coral pink - one of my favourite colours at the moment. The photo below doesn't do it justice - it has a delicate glimmering sheen.

You chop off a small piece of the Gelato stick, smoosh it with the palette knife having added some warn water , then slurp it up using the dropper into one of the two misting bottles provided and Bob's your uncle - in less than a minute - perfect mist in a shimmering colour. You can use the dropper to splatter it on your pages too if you like that look - which I do. They're great fun, acid-free, calorie -free ( no I don't eat them but they do look good enough to eat ) and come in lots of different colours and have many uses besides this.  Once you've bough the kit you can use your own Gelatos which cost about £2.50 each and change the hue by mixing in black or white. A darned sight cheaper that commercial brands of mixing inks too. What's not to like ?

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Wood Veneers

I love using these on my layouts but when I recently ordered some heart shaped wood veneers from Studio Calico and received a tiny pack of rather shabby shapes which must have weighed less than an ounce , I realised what a rip-off they were. So I've set about making my own. I managed to buy a small pack of wood veneer off- cuts intended for model makers - I bought them from an amazing art shop called Cass Art but I'm sure you can get them online too.

There are about 10 pieces of various wood veneers and it cost all of £2 . I then tried experimenting with my various punches. Woodware punches worked the best and fairly solid shapes without too much detail worked well. Make sure your wood veneer sheets are thin and the larger and chunkier the shape the more success you'll have. I punched out the following stars with ease - they're about 1.5 cm in width and I'm planning on punching some more hearts and stars in various sizes. Won't be having to order any more over-priced commercially produced wood veneers from now on - very chuffed !

Here are the results ...

Friday, 10 May 2013


We all do it , to some degree or other. It's only when it gets out of hand and start to affect our families and relationships that it becomes a bizarre spectacle and none stranger than on the TV last night. Going under the title of Extreme Hoarders, or some such, we were given a tragic insight into the lives of 2 extreme hoarders whose lives had become overtaken by the sheer volume of 'stuff' which they felt incapable of discarding. It's difficult to understand until you realise that both of these individuals had suffered such immense pain in their lives, that their only coping strategy was to replace that with something else as extreme , which enabled them to blot out the real gaping hole in their lives.

I urge you to watch it if only as an opportunity to guard against the level of consumerism that blights our lives these days. I'm not suggesting that you fill your lives with bin bags of old newspapers and decade-old rusting jars of foodstuffs, but it was a heart-felt piece, presented by a sympathetic and clearly intelligent reporter whose own mother had suffered from the same debilitating inability to throw things, past their useful life, away.

We've all been there ( haven't we ? ) teetering in the bathroom with a plastic container in one hand over whether to chuck out a dozen headbands past their prime and enough hotel toiletries to keep us clean for  lifetime. Do I really need 8 spare toothbrushes and haven't flannels gone out of fashion ? Will I ever have that beach holiday when I'll need these threadbare towels in gaudy colours and why on earth did I buy a battery operated nail buffer.

Olive, one of the hoarders, had led a lonely life as an only child, pre-deceased by the fiance she couldn't marry who'd been killed in WWII . Unable to get over her grief she had replaced her heartbreak with an urgent need to re-cycle old tin cans and accumulate anything that might have a future value. The resulting stockpile of detritus had taken over her life and home to the point of being unable to reach her bed at night without climbing over a mountain of debris which blocked every room in the house. Her story was tragic and we might never have learnt about it , like those of so many of our senior citizens.

This morning I sat in a hospital waiting room with my youngest son, waiting with so many others, for a precious few minutes with the over-stretched consultant who was running an hour behind schedule. An elderly gentleman in a wheelchair was wheeled into the waiting room by a couple of ambulance porters and deposited without ceremony in the midst of the out-patient strangers sitting on vinyl chairs in the corridor of the out-patients department. When told that their 'patient' would not be seen for another hour they left without so much as a courtesy question as to whether he might need the toilet or a glass of water. As they dis-appeared from view to satisfy their own needs in the hospital canteen I felt a pang of sorrow for the lonely looking chap who sat opposite us, uncomplaining and compliant.

The least I could do was offer him a magazine to flick through whilst he waited alone and abandoned. He cheerfully accepted the offer and I leafed through the dog eared copies of Golf Monthly and Waterfowl Weekly to find something of interest. I managed to come up with a magazine about the wildlife in Richmond Park which sparked his interest as he told me he had been taken there on an outing only last month. We talked about the London Parks and  Hampton Court and one thing led to another.

Before long, he was re-counting the days of his youth when he had worked at a local boatyard on torpedo boats. He had been there when the little boats from Teddington Lock, under the leadership of his employer , had been deployed to evacuate the troops from the beaches of Dunkerque . And all of that from one, all too brief, conversation. I would loved to have known more.

I doubt that the slapdash hospital porters knew anything about this man with a wealth of memories stored up in his still lucid mind. They were probably still stuffing themselves in the canteen - their loss.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

I've cracked it

I love when you find a cheaper alternative and it works. So I managed to resist the ludicrously priced set of neon Mr Huey inks which would have cost a fortune and went looking for something which would do the job, I ordered  set of fluorescent marbling inks for about £3 from ebay which were great fun to experiment with but wouldn't work on scrapbook pages as hey left an oily ring around each splatter but we had great fun making marbled papers with them which look very funky .

Well, today I picked up a cheap set of highlighter pens from Asda ( the brand name was Zebra - they come in packs of 3 - pink orange and yellow ) . I chose them because the pens looked like cartridge pens and you could see the fluorescent ink sploshing around inside the barrel. Got them home, poked a small hole in the end with my pokey tool and hey presto - perfect neon splatters of wild colours . I've got them stored end-up in a pen pot and can't wait to use them again . I realise they're probably not everyone's cup of tea but I've always been drawn to neon - there's a kind of magical allure .

 Best part ? Saved myself a fortune ... which I can now go spend on something else instead .