Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Stash Heaven

So here it is ... my little ( ahem ) pile of stash purchased at Version Scrap in Paris last weekend.

The show was held in a modern venue called Cite de la Mode et du Design - a much better event than last year's and bursting at the seams with absolutely gorgeous stash , unseen in the UK. What's more there were loads of vendors selling 12 x 12 papers .

I adore the simple graphic quality of the French dies and stamps. My absolute favourite has to be Simply Graphic. The fine quality of their dies and their chic designs are a sheer delight  Carabelle score very highly too with their stunning stamps and  stencils and a close joint third would have to be Carto Scrap whose stamp set prices were so reasonable at around £5.50 for a 8cm x 15 cm set and Ephemera who had fabulous enamel shape packs in gorgeous colours for a mere £2 per pack.

There was evidence of a lot of items from the US that weren't yet available in the UK  which was surprising - like the Heidi Swapp Lightboxes and a lot of the new We R Memory Keepers tools and punches.

I tried to restrict myself to products not available in the UK though . Here's a little peek.

... and the sweetest little calico carrier bag to hold them all courtesy of Simply Graphic.

One of my favourite purchases ( not shown in the photo above for some reason )  was from a supplier called Aladine who were selling tubs of foam backed rubber stamps in a variety of themes for a mere 10 Euros ( just under £8) . Now I don't usually like foam stamps but these were only foam backed ( making them lighter to transport ) . The actual stamp was a very good quality rubber - 36 of them in total plus a cube ink pad in black.The designs were right up my street and I couldn't believe the quality .

The photo below doesn't do them justice.

An absolute bargain and I know I'm going to be using them again and again.

I can highly recommend the show and what's not to like about a weekend away with best friends, stash shopping and the best food in the world .

Best buddies in the world

Iles Flotante - a pudding to die for

Flowers at the Marche at Place d'Aligre

 Choux pastries at Odette's

Love the French scrappers' love for vibrant colours

Rummaging at the market 

No title required 

Carabelle's wonderful array of tampons ( no not the sanitary variety - that's what stamps are called in France ) 

Eclair, mille-feuilee or tarte framboise ? That'll be all three then.

A bientot mes amis

Up-cycling ...

... sounds painful , like a bike-ride uphill, but it needn't be if it only involves making something that doesn't look that nice look a bit better. Maybe that's what I do every morning in front of the mirror ...

Anyway , I purchased this little thing from a flea market in Paris at the weekend ( sorry that sounded a little show offy , as if I'm always browsing Parisien markets - it only happens once a year , honest ) ... and the name Tim Holtz sprung to mind with his astronomically priced spinner things that hold stamp thingys. The difference is , this one only cost 5 Euros ( about £4 ) and so had to be bought as all bargains must.

I'm guessing it was made around the 50's or 60's , not a particularly good quality wood - I"m guessing pine or beech and had a rather ghastly layer of chipped varnish with a slightly garish orange hue.

I would normally attempt to restore anything made of wood back to its natural colouring but as the wood was cheap, the varnish horrid and I am rather lazy, I decided to slap on some paint instead. I applied a couple of coats of 2 different Paper Artsy Fresco Finish paints , appropriately named London Fog and French Roast ( a nice little trans - European blend I thought ) . I then finished it off with a quick buff of Pewter gilding wax to give it a slight metallic sheen. This all took a mere matter of minutes ( and about an hour to clean up the mess on my desk , clothes and carpet afterwards  ).

Tickled pink with the result . ... and given that I saved a fortune, that now gives me guilt-free reign to go buy things to put in it . Eh voila !

Monday, 11 April 2016

Funny old world

Just returned from Paris ( feels good to name drop from time to time - Jeez, I'm so shallow ) where I bought a crucifix in a market to add to my collection - bakelite with mother or pearl inlay - made around the 1950's in France.

Fortunately it still had its original label on the back - you can't beat a a bit of provenance when dealing with old stuff. It originally came from a Papeterie in Toulon. Being a nosey so and so I google mapped the address and dropped the little man into position, only to find myself in a street I had actually walked down, many years ago when visiting DH's sister who owns a house in nearby Port Grimaud. Sadly the Papeterie is no longer there but I did spot the cafe where we had lunch.

So, I have cleaned it up using the advised Brasso ( being careful not to breathe in any dust as Bakelite contains Formaldehyde - not good for longevity ) and had a quick look on some of my favourite antique trading sites and found its identical twin ... for sale at £80 ! Not bad for a 5 Euro bargain buy. I won't be selling it though as it now holds fond memories for me of our recent trip to Paris with my scrapping buddies. Oh ... and its year of manufacture ... 1958 - same year I was made . Don't you just love coincidences ?

More on Paris to follow - just having to edit out all the shots of me eating cake !

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Spring Cleaning

Condition: Spring Cleaning : A common condition that affects mainly women .

Causes: Sudden onset of sun striking windows , thereby highlighting several months of grimy dust. May also be brought on unexpectedly by reading Ideal Homes/ Good housekeeping or similar publications.

Symptoms: Sudden flourish of activity involving the purchasing of unnecessary cleaning products and storage boxes, urge to fill charity bags full of unwanted clothing and underused kitchen gadgets.

Side Effects: Restlessness, guilt, hyperactivity, breathlessness, irritation, fatigue.

Cure: None known

I have spent the day bleaching last year's grubby garden furniture cushions, sorting through 25 years worth of photographs and de-griming the teens' bathroom. Not content with this, I then went on to clear out the entire top cupboards of my built-in bedroom wardrobes and attempt a de-clutter of my scrap room. I am a glutton for punishment. The photographs nearly did my head in. Each and every one involved the following decisions - keep, chuck, store, scrap, insert into album etc.

I am utterly worn out with the effort of it all - not the physical effort , the mental anguish of it all. The straw that broke the camel's back was what to do with all the baby bath toys which I'd stashed under the basin thinking that out of sight was out of mind. Not so. One duck and Mr Wheezey, the water spouting penguin have gone into the attic.

And as for the photographs ....

I had to laugh at the rather macabre Polaroid of myself, sister and father looking long faced and suitably distraught at the Funeral Home where Mum had just been taken. I think we may just have been leafing through the coffin brochure attempting a decision on whether to go with the Old English Oak with the solid brass handles ( cripplingly expensive ) or the veneered version with the stainless steel knobs . For the life of me I can't remember what on earth compelled us to take a photo of the sorry scene. Why on earth would I ever want to be reminded ?

This along with what seemed like a million other memories have now been consigned to piles on the floor from where they will remain for at least a fortnight, gathering dust be sorted into albums, cataloguing the various chapters of my life.

This spring-cleaning ritual has become a recurring feature of my life for the past 20 or so years. It is an annual phenomenon which only seems to afflict me. The rest of the family seem capable of by-passing it completely. There is no known cure, other than maybe to simply stop buying the 'stuff ' in the first place.

Maybe today's selfie - taking, snapchat - swapping, text-exchanging generation have something to teach us hoarding oldies. Life is transitory , fleeting and utterly disposable.