Monday, 18 August 2014

Creative Bloggers Hop

Hello everyone.

You may have seen the Creative Bloggers Hop popping up around blogland.  It's a continuous hop every Monday with a host of creative and inspirational bloggers taking part.  

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from my lovely blogpal Squirrel asking if I'd like to take part.  If you’re familiar with Squirrel’s work you will easily recognise her clean and simple style, focusing on a beautifully coloured image.  But it's not just her creative talents I love - she’s an amazing lady and I'm very honoured to count her as one of my top blogpals (and a friend who's just a text message away).  Check out some colouring that especially caught my eye on her blog this week (click here).

So, still on a 'high' from being chosen by Squirrel, I could not believe it when, two days later, I received an email from one of my very earliest followers, Wendy (Crafty Kiwi Mama), also asking me if I minded her nominating me for the Creative Bloggers Hop. Well, I was one honoured little crafter I can tell you!   As one of my longest standing followers, I love seeing Wendy's name pop up in my comments.  She also makes some gorgeously pretty cards, for example click here to see a little cutie which specifically caught my eye using an image I absolutely love.

So thank you to both Squirrel and Wendy. I'm totally humbled that you both think I'm worthy of nominating in the 'inspiration' hop. :0)

So, back to business: There are four questions to answer.  

Easy, huh?  

Erm, well, let’s see how we get on, shall we!

Here goes …. I'm heading in!

1.  What Am I Working On At The Moment?
I've got a project that’s taking over most of my crafting time (and all of my conservatory) at the moment.  It’s something that’s a bit different for me because it’s a bulk-make: I'm helping a work colleague make her wedding invitations.  

The bride-to-be and I had a 'design' evening where we started with a basic card and thrashed around different ideas.  I was anticipating that for 50 identical cards we’d want something simple and quick to create.  

But, as with all good intentions, that plan soon went out of the window, and I soon got carried away showing her what we could make.  

Needless to say we ended up with an embossed, stitched pocket card with punched border and a double organza bow on a printed die cut circle for the front!  

So, just what you want when you're making 50 identical cards, right?  ;0)  

Plus I used the design as justification to buy a new stitched circle nesting die!

So far we've spent 2 evenings in production together, on lock-down in my conservatory.  The first evening we were trimming, folding, cutting, embossing, punching, gluing, bow-tying and sewing for 3 hours.  That produced 6 cards.  Two evenings later we had another session and managed to produce a doubled quota of 12 in the same time, which brought the total to 18.  

Whilst 18 cards in 6 hours might be a new record for me, the downside is that she needs 50!  It's not as bad as it sounds as we do actually have a few dozen more which are now ‘part finished’ so won't take quite as long to finish!  

Hopefully I’ll be able to share a photo of one with you before long (with the bride's permission!).  So far I've been doing all the stitching and a large proportion of of the cutting, and the Bride-to-be’s been doing the embossing, punching, die-cutting and sticking.  But I've fore-warned her that I'm going to ‘insist’ that she makes the last one from start to finish so that she can use that one as a keepsake!  I think she’s a bit nervous of the sewing machine, but I thought it would be nice for her to have one that she’s made fully herself so that in years to come she can dig it out and show what she made. 

Other than the epic wedding invitation project, I'm several weeks ahead with my DT work, which is where I like to be, and I've actually been fairly quiet apart from a quick card here and there.  

I'm trying to focus more on the quality of my colouring at the moment; watching some You-Tube videos of colouring classes, so it’s taking me longer to create each card.  I've also bought some Inktense pencils which I’ll admit that I'm struggling with, so I'm trying to persevere with them, resisting the urge to give up with them too soon.

In other news, I'm also trying desperately to use what I've already bought (as I seem to have had a little bit of a spending spree lately) rather than buy new stuff before I've inked up the last purchase.  

It’s probably best that you don’t ask how successful that's been though. :0)

2.  How Does My Work Differ From Others In My Genre?
I’d like to think that there are a few people who could pick my cards out from a line-up.  I think my penchant for chalked clouds and ‘grounding’ my characters on a background might be a main identifier.  Aside from that, to be honest I'm undoubtedly inspired by others in blogland, so my cards will naturally incorporate elements and techniques that I see around me.  

But I think that’s a good thing.  It’s how I've both improved evolved my crafting as well as stalking making some lovely new chums along the journey.  

When I look back at my creations from when I first started (wow - that's 10 years ago this year!), I'm stunned at how much my style (and skill) has changed. 

I'm keen to try to attempt new techniques (the Inktense pencils being one example) as well as inking onto Linen, making boxes, designing bags, making my own crackers, clocks, jewellery etc.  I guess what makes me different in that respect is that very rarely will I follow a pattern, usually preferring instead to ‘wing it’ and create my own design.  

Sometimes that works out well, sometimes not!

The other thing that I like to think makes me a little bit different is that I make bespoke digi sentiments for my followers which I design and share for free.  I occasionally receive emails from someone saying they’re struggling to find something for a card they’re making, or they want something personalised with a special person’s name or date.  As far as possible I’ll happily help out, with my payment being seeing my sentiment used on their finished creation at some point.  

I'm certainly not saying my digi sentiments are anything special, nor do I have any 'digi design' training, but people seemed to like them enough to use them, so why not share them?  I love seeing them crop up all over blogland on some fabulous creations.  I've also shared my templates for clocks and crackers.  If you want a peek at my freebies, click here, and I'd love you to leave a comment if you grab one.

3.  Why Do I Create What I Do?

That’s a simple question, with a simple answer:

Because I love it.

Crafting has become an addiction, but it’s an addiction for which I seek no cure.  

I started card-making 10 years ago when I made my own wedding invitations.  They were a simple design (yes, I did follow my bulk-production theory in those early days!) with a trio of burgundy roses on a strip of gold textured card.  

That was enough for me to catch the crafting bug and I quickly moved on to stamping.  Like many others, my first love was Penny Black images before I moved through almost an entirely Digi stage.  Now, I seem to be now moving back to rubber, with a roughly 70:30 split.  

My favourite designs are from Lili of the Valley, Sugar Nellie, Tiddly Inks, Purple Onion Designs, Wee Stamps, Saturated Canary, Wild Rose Studio and of course Penny Black.   

Oh, and I've recently acquired a fondness for Stamping Bella’s Uptown Girls.

Erm, and Whipper Snapper

And Crafter’s Companion images.

So, not too many then!  :0)

I find crafting very therapeutic from a busy life.  A stressful full-time day-job unfortunately uses up valuable crafting time but pays for new crafty stash (and a few bills!).  It does scare me that sometimes I can’t seem to stop myself buying new things and there is a lot of stuff I've bought which hasn't seen the light of day yet.  I like to think that I am generally getting better at only buying stuff that I will actually use, rather than stuff that looks good in the packet but not sure how to use it once I get it home.

As you may know, in addition to my crafting, when I have the time, I also like to write my posts with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humour.  I think that we all need a bit of a giggle in our lives, and I prefer the subtle to the slapstick.  I hope that occasionally some of my antics bring a smile to my readers’ lips.  If so, my work here is done!

4.  How Does Your Creative Process Work?
Most of my cards are for a purpose, either a DT project or a specific recipient or occasion.  

The process almost always starts with an image, but I have been specifically trying to select my papers before I start to colour.  The idea is that I then match my image colours to the papers, rather than the other way around.  The latter can sometimes result in some interesting creations, some which are so colour-busy that I'm not so proud to share!

The design layout falls into place at the end, depending on my mood.  

For example: I used to only make really ‘fussy’ designs, like this personalised LOTV baby girl card from last summer:

Don't get me wrong, this card remains one of my all-time favourite creations, but in the last few months, something odd has happened.
The 'fussy' switch in my head must have flipped over to 'Fuss-Free' because I started creating far more CAS designs.
As if to prove that point, this weekend I created the ULTIMATE clean and simple design. 
Brace yourself as it doesn't come more extreme than this:

This was one of those images where I was attempting to improve my colouring, especially as this card was recently sent to someone who has inspired me to improve my colouring techniques.
After spending so long colouring the image, I wanted her to be the focus (and I think it’s safe to say that I succeeded in that respect!).  I'm not 100% happy with the dress folds, but I was really concentrating on her hair, so can we just gloss over the dress please?  Colouring folds will have to be my next learning project!
So now that I've bored you senseless by rattling on about myself (*yawn*) it’s time for me to nominate and introduce a few crafters who have long inspired me.
And you won’t be disappointed.
Their own ‘Creative Bloggers Hop’ posts are due to be published next Monday, 25th August, but you can pop over to see some of their gorgeous creations before then.  

I know you’ll love what you find:

Samantha @ Penrith Crafts:

I first met Samantha on the Stampfairy Design Team, and then subsequently we both DT’d on Incy Wincy before Samantha asked me to join her Top Tip Tuesday and ABC Christmas Challenge design teams.  Then, like the crazy girls we are, we decided to open another challenge between us, and ‘As You Like It Challenge’ was born.  Samantha has the job most of us crafters dream of; she works at Penrith Crafts shop.  Hmm, it’s probably best that I don’t have that job though as I would never have any wages left to pay for the household bills. 

Samantha: You’re one of my oldest and closest blogging buddies, and as well as admiring your work, I value your friendship.  You introduced me to my beloved Sakura stardust pens and I love your clean, simple and stylish creations with their soft Distress Ink colouring.  I also love how you try different things, like sewing, crochet and baking, and that we share hobbies involving a love of pets and veggie gardening.  The only thing you don't share is my fondness for pink, but I think I'm wearing you down in that arena because it's occasionally crept into your creations and clothing!  :0)

Ironically I also met Larissa on the Stampfairy DT, and her style is one I can usually pick out from a line-up.  She is also a Tiddly Inks designer which is one of my favourite stamp designs, so she's one of my inspirations there too.  Larissa's cards are consistently stunning.  Like Samantha's they’re clean and simple and she makes the most beautiful gift boxes too.  Her image is always the focus, and her pencil colour work is just stunning.  Like Samantha, she's a bad influence on the purchasing front, and I've 'had' to buy a black glaze pen (as used above on my TI Wryn image). And I am thinking I may 'need' a Silhouette at some point but I'm still managing to resist temptation for now!

Larissa: I have long adored the magic you create with your pencils.  The texture that you achieve, the beautiful designs and bright colours (esp the pinks!).  I love that you use pencils rather than the more common Copics that we see so much (I'm guilty of including myself in that Copic fan club too!).  Your creations make the colouring look so effortless, but having recently tried pencils, I have now found how hard it really is.  This has made me marvel even more at your consistently perfect pencil colouring.

Barbara's colouring skills are, in my humble opinion: Out. Of. This. World.  For example, I popped over to her blog to seek an especially outstanding one to link up here for you, and I ended up drooling over them all (again).  And yet still I could not finding one that was any less special than the others.  So, I'm simply going to say, if you are not familiar with Barbara's work, (1) where have you been, and (2) please go and pay her a visit, and drool for yourself.

Barbara: I frequently run out of new ways when I comment to describe how much I admire your painting with Distress Inks.  I've spent ages stalking looking at your cards to try to learn how I can improve my DI painting skills.  I fall in love every time I see your beautiful cards and I can only dream to be a tenth as good as you with a paintbrush. But to be honest, even that seems optimistic!

So, that's all from me.  

For those insomniacs amongst you who are still reading, thanks for joining me today, (and for staying awake).  

I hope you will enjoy Samantha’s, Larissa’s and Barbara's ‘hop’ posts next week too.

My uber CAS 'You're too sweet' card showcased above features Tiddly Inks' Eat More Cake (image and sentiment), and I'm entering it into the following challenge:
Happy crafting


Wendy L said...

Wow, what a post. Gorgeous card and very interesting reading. xxxx

Pollard Carole said...

Great blog today all so interesting Love and Hugs Carole x

Deanne @ Three Trees said...

Thanks for sharing and your Tiddly Inks card is A-MAZING!!!

Deanne :)

Sarah said...

A fabulous insight into the life of Netty's Cards!! I can't wait to see the wedding invitations and I really love your fab CAS card, that hair is fab!! xx

Carol S. said...

How long did that take you to do?!! Blimmin' 'eck, it was the longest post ever. Great card and love your CAS design. Colouring is awesome. Hugs, Carol S.xx

Samantha said...

Annette your one awesome friend and craft buddy and I LOVE being one of your closest blogging buddies But come off it I am NOT old! tehehheee thank you for including me in your post! its an awesome read and love spending time here and chatting and craft/blogging challenging with you too! biggest of hugs me xx

Larissa said...

Annette, thanks for the very sweet words. I am really happy that have gotten to know each other at the Stampfairy team. I am not that bad influence you say I am. A glaze pen is a I don't feel guilty. ;) And if you "need" a silhouette that also makes it a stil not feeling guilty. LOL

I really love your Tiddly Inks card. The hair is really amazing!!!! You should be proud of it!!


Wendy Nicola Jackson said...

Annette, that was a fabulous read hun. Love that you're doing such a special thing for your friend, helping make her wedding invitations! I do look forward to seeing those. I have loved too, watching your style change over this last year to include more of the CAS influenced makes. Your colouring to me, is always spot on! So I think your CAS designs are utter winners!! The hair on this latest one, OMGoodness!!! I aspire to that! Thanks for letting me 'tag you' in this blog hop. I know I will continue to be inspired by your blog for years to come!! Hugs, Wends x

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